Saturday, December 31, 2022
Friday, December 30, 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.
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
Saturday, December 24, 2022
Friday, December 23, 2022
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
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Friday, December 16, 2022
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
"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).
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Monday, December 12, 2022
Saturday, December 10, 2022
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
Tuesday, December 06, 2022
Saturday, December 03, 2022
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