Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Vision (6.24.22): Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees


Image: Knock-out roses, North Garden, Virginia, June 2022

Note: Devotional taken from sermon last Sunday on Matthew 16:1-12

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Matthew 16:6).

In the second half of Matthew’s Gospel the shadow of the cross begins to fall over the narrative. In Matthew 16:1 we read how the Pharisees and Sadducees came to tempt the Lord by asking him for a sign.

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest there is a line, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” From that line came another, “Politics makes for strange bedfellows.” The idea is that if you want to get something done you sometimes have to work closely with people you don’t like in order to achieve some mutual interest.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were “strange bedfellows” to one another.

The Pharisees were a pious sect of Jews who sought carefully to keep the Old Testament law. They were supernaturalists. They believed in the work of the Holy Spirit and in angels. They believed in the final resurrection and the life to come. But in their zeal to keep the law, they often added extra-biblical rules.

The Sadducees, on the other hand, were the aristocratic priestly caste. They made sure that the temple worship, including its sacrifices were maintained. They were naturalists. They believed in God, but not in the Holy Spirit or in angels. They rejected, in particular, the final resurrection. In denying these things, they took away from Scripture.

We can see the differences between these two groups in the book of Acts when Paul is tried before the Jewish council (see Acts 23:6-9). This is what I mean when I call these two “strange bedfellows.” They didn’t like each other, but they didn’t like Christ more.

Spurgeon observed, “It is the way of the wicked to become friends when seeking the overthrow of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew, 223).

Christ proceeded to warn his disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (16:6). The disciples eventually come to understand that the Lord was not talking about literal bread but about “doctrine” (16:12).

Spurgeon noted that Christ “feared the influence of both the Ritualism of the Pharisee, and the Rationalism of the Sadducee upon his little church” (Matthew, 226).

Let us indeed avoid the errors of those who add to God’s Word (the error of the Pharisees) and those who subtract from it (the error of the Sadducees). So let us take heed and beware the leaven of false doctrine.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeffrey T. Riddle

Friday, June 24, 2022

WM 240 (a): Review: Ancient Christian Commentary on Mark



2022 CRBC Vacation Bible School Video

Thanks to one of our CRBC youth (Sophia D.) for making this video capturing some of the moment from our VBS this week.


Scenes from 2022 CRBC Vacation Bible School (VBS): June 20-23

Great time at CRBC annual "Puritan" and "One-Room_School-house" VBS this week. Children ages preschool to 12 enjoyed Bible study, recreation, crafts/drama, and lunch together each day. Youth served as helpers. CRBC workers are "a lean-mean-VBS-machine." The theme was Lessons from Judges.

Scenes from CRBC Nursing Home Ministry (6.19.22)

 CRBCers led a monthly outreach service at a local nursing home last Sunday afternoon.

Scenes from CRBC Work Day (6.18.22)

 Great crew showed up last Saturday to spruce up the church inside and outside before the start of VBS.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

2022 CRBC Vacation Bible (VBS): Monday-Thursday, June 20-23, 2022.


VBS is for children ages preschool to 12 years.

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 Judges Cycle and Ehud (Judges 1-3)



Tuesday: Deborah (Judges 4-5)



Wednesday: Gideon (Judges 6-7)



Thursday: Samson (Judges 13-16)

Friday, June 17, 2022

WM 239: Book Discussion: Why I Preach From The Received Text


The Vision (6.17.22): Compassion on the Multitude


Image: Orange lilly, North Garden, Virginia, June 2022

Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 15:29-39.

Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way (Matthew 15:32).

The feeding of the 4,000 begins with Christ’s declaration that he has compassion upon the multitude (v. 32). The term used here is from the Greek word for the entrails or gut or bowels. We sometimes speak of the bowels of compassion. It hits you internally. It is a deep feeling of compassion that constrains one to be burdened by the needs of others, so much so that one feels it physically. This is a typical description of Christ in Matthew (cf. 9:36; 14:14; in the parable of the unjust servant, 18:27).

It is, in fact, a not-so-subtle affirmation of the deity of Christ, as he demonstrates an attribute often associated with the Lord in the Old Testament. See:

Psalm 145:8 The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

Christ’s compassion was extended to this multitude, in particular, because “they continued with me now three days, and have nothing to eat.” For three days this crowd had been there watching as Christ performed many miraculous healings (see 15:30-31). Have you ever been caught up in doing or watching some event, maybe some work, recreation or hobby, and the time just seemed to fly by until you realized you hadn’t eaten at all or barely eaten? This had apparently been the case with the multitude.

Christ declared he would not send them away “fasting” (v. 32). The term refers to the religious practice of abstaining from food for spiritual purposes, which Christ had commended in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt 6:16-18). Lest, he said, “they faint in the way” (v. 32). Christ has a concern for the souls and the bodies of his disciples.

We could say that an overall theme in Matthew is the compassion of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is not indifferent to us. The apostle Peter thus wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Christ not only had compassion on the multitude, but he also cares for us.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeffrey T. Riddle

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Vision (6.12.22): The Prayer of the Canaanite Woman


Image: Michael Cook, Crumbs of Love, 2008.

Note: Devotional taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 15:21-28.

And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil (Matthew 15:22).

Mathew 15:22 describes Christ’s encounter with a Canaanite woman, who cries out in prayer. Notice:

First, she offers a heartfelt petition for the Lord to bestow mercy. Grace has been defined as when we DO get what we DO NOT deserve. Mercy, on the other hand, has been defined as when we DO NOT get what we DO deserve. The request for mercy at the hand of God comes from one who knows she is a sinner, deserving God’s wrath and punishment.

In Luke 18 Christ tells a parable contrasting the prayer of a self-righteous Pharisee and a publican (tax collector). The latter, knowing he is deserving of God’s wrath stands “afar off,” without even lifting his eyes to heaven, “but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (v. 13).

Second, she addresses Christ as “Lord.” This Greek term kurios has a double meaning. It can mean Sir or Master. But it is also the word that was used in reverence to refer to God. The earliest Christian confession was likely the simple statement: Jesus is Lord (cf. Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 2:11).

Third, she addresses the Lord Jesus as the “Son of David.” This title is given to Christ in the first line of this Gospel (1:1). What is striking is that she as a Gentile acknowledges the Lord Jesus to be descendent of David. Though a Gentile, she looks to the God of Israel and the seed of David for deliverance.

Finally, she intercedes not merely for herself but, most importantly, for her demon possessed daughter: “my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” It has often been observed that one mark of spiritual maturity is that one prays more for the needs of others than for oneself. Surely godly parents will intercede for their children when they are in distress.

Let us learn from this woman’s example when we cry out to our God in prayer.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Trinitarian Bible Society: Text and Translation Conference: September 15, 2022


Book Review: Dan Lucarini, Why I Left the CCM Movement


Just posted audio versions of this review. Hard to believe I wrote this c. 18 years ago. Hope it still has some relevance. I also posted the written review to my page. You can read it here.


Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Free Sample: Why I Preach From The Received Text

Want to read a free sample from Why I Preach from the Received Text (coming July 22, 2022)?

Find the Editorial Introduction by Riddle & McShaffrey and the article by Archibald Allison, "Infallible Truth, Not Probability" here:


The "Sunday Roast"


From my twitter (@Riddle1689):

I watched a video the other day where someone mentioned the British tradition of a "Sunday roast." I'd never heard of this tradition. I then looked up this article on wikipedia:

The article begins:

"A Sunday roast is a traditional British meal that is typically served on Sunday, consisting of roasted meat, roast potatoes and accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, gravy, and condiments such as apple sauce, mint sauce, or redcurrant jelly."

And continues:

"A wide range of vegetables can be served as part of a roast dinner, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, or peas ... alongside the meat and potatoes. Mashed potatoes are also a frequent accompaniment."


"The Sunday roast's prominence in British culture is such that in a UK poll in 2012 it was ranked second in a list of things people love about Britain. Other names for this meal include Sunday lunch, Sunday dinner, roast dinner, and full roast."

Growing up in the South, it was the norm for us to have a big "Sunday dinner" (the largest meal of the week), right after Sunday morning church that typically included roast, potatoes, carrots and various vegetables (but not Yorkshire pudding!).

With the family name Riddle (Rye-dale) and other family names like Webb and Honeycutt in my mix it dawned on me that maybe what I thought was a Southern tradition actually had its roots in England.


Friday, June 03, 2022

The Vision (6.3.22): Let them alone


Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 15:10-20.

But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: “ (Matthew 15:13-14a).

When the disciples came to Christ reporting that the Pharisees have been offended by his teaching, he responded: “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (v. 13b).

This statement recalls other teachings of our Lord, like that in John 15:2, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.”

Even more striking is the parallel to Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares, recorded in Matthew 13:24-30, in which Christ describes how an enemy came in the night and “sowed tares among the wheat” (v. 25). When the servants suggested to the master that he uproot the tares, he forbade them, lest “ye root up also the wheat with them” (v. 29). Instead, the wise householder said, “Let them grow together until the harvest” and then separate them (v. 30). See also Christ’s interpretation of the parable in 13:37-43.

What is Christ saying now in our passage? He is saying that these Pharisees are tares. They have not been planted by the heavenly Father, but by an enemy, the devil. This recalls Christ’s words to his opponents in John 8:44, “Ye of your father the devil.” At the end of the ages, Christ says, they will be rooted up!

Christ then adds in v. 14a: “Let them alone.” Again, this is like the parable of the wheat and the tares. The response of Christ to the presence of ungodly men in the assembly of the saints, unconverted men who claim to be pious and holy and conscientious, zealous for purity, is simply to let them alone. Wait till the day of judgement, when such men will be plucked up, placed in the scales of divine justice, and cast into hell.

There is a solemn warning here against those, like the Pharisees,  who were offended by Christ, never considering that Christ might be offended by them. Such men will one day be rooted up.

As with the parable of the tares, there is also a reminder here to the church that we must trust the Lord’s judgment in the end and not presume we can sort all these things out ourselves in this age. Sometimes the wisest thing to do is to heed Christ’s words: “Let them alone” (v. 14). We can trust the Lord to defend his own cause.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Song Text: 1 Corinthians 15:3-10

Image: Roses, May 2022, North Garden, Virginia

At midweek Bible Study tonight at CRBC, we looked at 1 Corinthians 15:3-10. We then sang this rendering of the text to the ST. ANNE tune. I wrote the song text back in 2020, but tonight was the first time it was sung congregationally.

1 Corinthians 15:3-10

That which I have received from Christ,

I have delivered thee:

How that Christ died for all our sin,

As Scripture says to be.


That he was buried and rose up

The third day, death o’er whelmed,

So Scripture says, and then appeared,

To Cephas and the twelve.


Five hundred men then saw the Lord,

At the same time alive,

And most of these remain in life,

Though some no more abide.


He, after this, was seen of James,

Then all the holy band,

And last of all was seen by me,

As one born out of hand.


For least of all I am of his,

Since his own church I tried,

But by his grace, I was set free.

His death was on my side.


And so with all, I labored hard,

Yet not by mine own hand.

I worked with zeal above the rest,

By grace alone to stand.


I am, by grace, the man I am.

His grace was not in vain.

That I could labor with the rest,

‘Twas him not me is plain.


Words copyright 2020 by Jeffrey T. Riddle. Common Meter tune (suggested tunes: ST. ANNE, “O God Our Help in Ages Past”; CRIMOND, “The Lord’s My Shepherd”)

2022 Keach Conference Coming: September 24!


2022 Keach Conference is coming on September 24! Theme: 2LBCF ch. 15. Four messages from four pastors in VA:

Timothy Decker (Trinity RBC, Roanoke), Josh Henson (Grace Covenant, Virginia Beach), Luke Peterson (Emmanuel RBC, Verona), and Andy Rice (Providence BC, Harrisonburg).

Latest issue of Sword & Trowel


Latest issue of Sword & Trowel arrived (2022, No. 1). Happy to see my article "A Defense of the Traditional Text" in this issue, taken from my lecture at Met Tab last November. Bookshop flyer also features my book John Owen on Scripture on its front cover. Also got Dr. Master's booklet on Job.