Friday, July 21, 2023

Vision (7.21.23): The Great Commissioner's Promise


Image: Bluberries, North Garden, Virginia, July 2023.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 28:18-20.

“… and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20b).

The Gospel of Matthew ends with the risen Lord’s Great Commission to the apostles to go, teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptize in the name of the triune God, and instruct them in all his counsel. It is the Great Commission, not the Great Suggestion.

Finally, the Lord offers to those apostles (and through them to the church that Christ will build on this foundation, Matthew 16:18) a promise or assurance of his abiding presence.

This is another “I am” (ego eimi) saying, like those in the Gospel of John: “and, lo, I am with you always”).

Think of a child who has to go through a struggle of some kind and of a loving parent who comes alongside that child and says, I am right here with you, and I will be by your side through it all.

This promise fits with an Emmanuel theme throughout the entire Bible. In the very first chapter of Matthew, the evangelist had taught of our Lord’s virginal conception as a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Now, like a bookend, in the final chapter of Matthew we hear this same Emmanuel promise.

It is stated in Hebrews 13:5, as the apostle writes, “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

When we turn to the book of Acts, we see this promise fulfilled. When Stephen laid down his life as the first martyr for our Lord, he looked up, as it were, into the balcony of heaven and saw Christ standing (Acts 7:55). When Paul went through turmoil in Corinth, the Lord spoke to him in a vision, saying, “Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee” (Acts 18:9b-10a).

The risen Lord promises to be with his disciples to the end (the final working out) of this world (this aeon or age; the time between his first advent and his second).

May this bring us great comfort as we continue to serve our Lord till he come again.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Booklet: Why John 7.53-8.11 is in the Bible: A Defence of the Authenticity of 'The Woman Taken in Adultery' Account in the Text of Holy Scripture


I have posted a pdf of the new booklet, Why John 7.53-8.11 is in the Bible: A Defence of the Authenticity of 'The Woman Taken in Adultery' Account in the Text of Holy Scripture (Trinitarian Bible Society, 2023) to my page.

It is an expanded version of my notes from the 2021 lecture I did at Met Tab in London. View here.


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Article: "Five Questions About the Majority Text Posed to its Contemporary Evangelical and Reformed Advocates"


I have posted to my article, "Five Questions About the Majority Text Posed to its Contemporary Evangelical and Reformed Advocates," which appeared in Bible League Quarterly, No. 494 (July-September 2023): 19-23.

You can read the article here.


Saturday, July 08, 2023

Book Review: Geoffrey Thomas, Ernest C. Reisinger: A Biography


I have posted to my page a previously unpublished review I wrote in 2005 of Geoffrey Thomas's Ernest C. Reisinger: A Biography (Banner of Truth, 2002). Audio versions are posted above.


Friday, July 07, 2023

The Vision (7.7.23): Four Wondrous Attendant Circumstances at the Resurrection of Christ


Image: Hydrangea, North Garden, Virginia, July 2023

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 27:62--28:8.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it (Matthew 28:2).

Just as Matthew described four wondrous attendant circumstances atthe death of our Lord on the cross (see Matthew 27:50-54), so the inspired Evangelist makes note of at least four initial wondrous attendant circumstances at his resurrection:

First, the earth convulsed (v. 2a: “And, behold, there was a great earthquake [seismos …. megas].” If the earth convulsed with grief and groaning at his death, it now leaps with joy at his resurrection, just as in Psalm 114:4 it speaks of the mountains skipping like rams and the hills like lambs at the presence of the LORD.

Second, the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it (v. 2b). We know from the other Gospels that there were in fact at least two angels who were there (cf. Luke 24:4; John 20:12). The angel of the Lord was there at his birth (Matthew 2:13, 19), and now, like a bookend, at his resurrection. Notice that the angel sat upon the stone, just as Christ will be seated at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). You sit down when the work is done. It is a visual declaration of the finished work of the resurrection.

This angel is described in his glory and power in v. 3a. His countenance (the Greek word is idea) was like lightening. His raiment was white as snow (v. 3b). This speaks to the purity of God’s faithful angelic servants whose robes were never spoiled by the stain of fall or rebellion.

Third, the soldiers who were watching the tomb became as dead men (nekroi) (v. 4). The irony is that they were stationed there to guard the tomb of a dead man; but now Christ is alive, and they are like dead men.

Fourth, the angel answered and spoke unto the women (vv. 6-7). This angel becomes the first recorded herald of the resurrection, saying, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (v. 6a). He then invites the women to investigate and see for themselves the empty tomb: “Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (v. 6b).

That same message continues to be proclaimed today: He is risen; come and see (cf. John 1:39).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Monday, July 03, 2023

Book Review: Gregory A. Wills, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 1859-2009

I have posted to my page the review I wrote in 2009 of Gregory A. Wills' history of my alma mater, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, released on the school's sequicentennial anniversary.

Interesting to read some of the questions I posed 14 years ago:

The book also raises a number of more speculative questions in my mind.  Here are a few to consider:  Was it a wholly positive move for Southern Baptists to establish centralized seminary education along the model of colleges, universities, and divinity schools?  What would the trajectory of the SBC had been like if theological education would have been left with Baptist colleges or with private tutelage under veteran pastors within local churches?  Although the dismissal of Toy from SBTS was a watershed, does his hiring and retention until protested by grassroots Southern Baptists give evidence of denominational diplomacy even among the founders (like Boyce and certainly Broadus)?  Does the desire to be engaged with secular scholarship in the academy even among the current theologically conservative faculty present the risk that future generations might also be tempted to compromise?  Is the Abstract of Principles robustly Calvinistic or confessional enough to maintain doctrinal fidelity at SBTS?


Broken Wharfe Podcast: The Clarity of Scripture and the Means of Grace, Ft. Jeff Riddle