Friday, February 23, 2024

WM 301: Sermon Review: Gurry on the PA as a Spurious but "True" Illustration

 




JTR

The Vision (2.23.24): A New Commandment


Image: Harbor Street, ancient Ephesus, Turkey.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 John 2:7-11.

Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth (1 John 2:8).

In 1 John 2 the apostle tells his readers that he writes “no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment” (v. 7). Nevertheless, he then proceeds to call it “a new commandment" in v. 8.

What is this old, new commandment? The reference here is likely to the new commandment which Christ gave his disciples in the upper room in John 13:34-35, that they love one another as Christ loved them.

John was reminding his Christian readers of the special love and regard Christians are to have for one another, based on Christ's example. Christ, as the New Lawgiver, gives them this new commandment.

Friends, we are also being exhorted today to take up this new commandment. He has set an example for us. We should serve one another as Christ has served us.

It starts in the home in the way Christians husbands and wives treat one another, and it expands to the way Christian parents interact with all their children, but especially their believing children. How wonderful it is when our children are also our brothers and sisters in Christ.

It extends into our church in the ways in which we listen to, honor, and care for one another within the household of faith.

It extends to the way we treat Christian brethren in our sister congregations here in Virginia and around the world.

It will govern the language we use and the tone of our discourse on social media.

Do our actions reveal that we walk in the light or that we are walking in darkness?

What do you do if anyone, but especially a Christian brother, rubs you the wrong way? Can you plod? Can you continue to abide or remain in Christ? As John said, “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light…” (1 John 2:10).

We have an old, new commandment to love one another as Christ has loved us. And we have assurance of our faith if we obey his commandments (1 John 2:5; cf. John 14:15; 15:14).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Vision (2.16.24): We have an Advocate

 


Image: Ruins of the Library of Celsus in ancient Ephesus, Turkey.

Note: Devotion based on last Sunday's sermon on 1 John 2:1-6.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).

John addresses the recipients of this letter as “my little children” (cf. 1 John 2:12, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21). He has been their spiritual father, and they are children of God by the new birth (John 1:12-13).

To what end does he write? “that ye sin not.” John was not expecting perfectionism from the saints (cf. 1 John 1:8-10). He knew that on this side of the kingdom they would not be fully sanctified, but he wanted them to live victorious Christian lives in which they were no longer bound by the old ways of sin.

He also knew that in this life, with all their remaining corruptions, they would continue to come short of God’s glory, but when they did, he did not want them to be crushed by this but instead to realize that provision had been made for them.

So he continues, “And if any man [Christian man, believer] sin, we [believers] have an advocate with the Father….” The word rendered as “advocate” in Greek is paraklētos. It means a spokesman, an intercessor, a helper, a comforter.

Four times in the Gospel of John Christ used this term in reference to the Holy Spirit, and it is translated there as “Comforter” (see John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7).

Paul likewise speaks of the Spirit in this way, describing the Comforter as one who helps us in our infirmities when we don’t know how to pray, and who makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).

In 1 John 2:1, however, the apostle John applies that term not to the Spirit but to Christ. Not only does the Spirit help us in our prayers, but so does Christ himself. He goes before the Father when we sin and serves as our advocate before the Father. We might imagine his advocacy for us before the Father as perhaps like this:

Father, remember, that this redeemed sinner is but dust.

O Father you have saved this man and promised to sanctify him.

O Father, remember that my blood was shed to satisfy thy wrath and for the forgiveness of this man’s sins.

When we sin and we are burdened down by it, John said that we are to remember that we have an Advocate with the Father who is “Jesus Christ, the righteous.” The word “righteous” is there to remind us that while we are sinners, our Advocate is without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The apostle Paul likewise declares that Christ is able to save “to the uttermost” those who come to the Father by him, “seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

Christ is our Advocate!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, February 09, 2024

The Vision (2.9.24): God is Light!

 

Image: Winter morning, North Garden, Virginia, February 2024

Note: Devotion based on last Sunday's sermon on 1 John 1:5-10.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

John declares, “God is light.” What, however, does this mean? Technically speaking, the scientists will tell us that light refers to electro-magnetic radiation that can be perceived or detected by the human eye at certain wavelengths and which travels in a vacuum at 186, 282 miles per second.

The Bible tells us that God created light when he said, “Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1:3, 14-16).

When John wrote, “God is light,” he did not mean to say that God is part of the creation. What he meant to say is that God is like light. This is true in at least two ways.

First, God is like the light in that he brings clarity and illumination.

Go into a dark basement and grope about and then flip the light-switch, and the things that were hidden are revealed as they are bathed in light. John is saying God is like that and knowing God is like that. Apart from God we are confined by fear and ignorance.

Second, like light God is powerful and even incomprehensible to mere men. Light can be so powerful that we cannot look directly upon it. Look at the sun directly and you will go blind. God is like the light in this way. He makes himself known to us, but we as mere men cannot look upon him directly, lest our senses be scourged.

This is what the hymn writer was getting at when he wrote, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes….”

So, when John says God is light, he is saying God is THE only one who allows us to see all things as they truly are. And he is so great and so powerful that we mere men are in no wise able to look upon him directly and comprehend all that he is.

There is one more important part of this statement that needs emphasis. John says he, as an apostle, is conveying this because this is what he heard directly from Christ himself: “This is the message which we have heard from him….”

We might ask when Christ declared, “God is light”? If we look through the Gospels, we cannot find that statement, but we can find in John 8:12 where Christ said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), and where he later said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).

At the beginning of John’s Gospel, the apostle refers to Christ as “the light of men,” adding, “And the light shineth in the darkness” (John 1:4-5). Later he says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18).

God is light. Christ is the light of the world. When we see and know Christ, we see and know God.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Monday, February 05, 2024

2024 Reformation Bible Society: August 3, 2024 @ Liberty Mountain Conference Center, Lynchburg, Virginia

 


You can learn about the Reformation Bible Society by visiting its website:


"The purpose of this Society shall be to foster and promote scholarly study, defense, and interpretation of the traditional Reformation text of Christian Scripture (i.e., the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Old Testament and Received Text of the Greek New Testament) by providing a medium for oral exchange and written expression of thought and reseach."

The theme of the 2024 Annual Meeting will be, "The Reformation Text and the Septuagint."

Plenary Lectures will be given by Russell Fuller, Jeffrey T. Riddle, David Kranendonk, and Christian McShaffrey.


Various short papers addressing the conference theme will be presented in breakout sessions, including papers by Albert Hemb, Matthew Vogan, Jonathan Arnold, Peter Van Kleecke, Jr., Brett Mahlen, and Patrick Morgan.


The deadline to submit short paper proposals for consideration is April 30, 2024.

JTR

Friday, February 02, 2024

WM 298: Article Review: T. David Gordon on Textual Criticism & the OPC

 



JTR

The Vision (2.2.24): Eyewitness of the Word of Life

 


Image: Ruins from the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus, built in the sixth century, supposedly on the sight where John the Apostle was buried.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 John 1:1-4.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, or the Word of life” (1 John 1:1).

The early Christians were beset by problems on two sides. We might say they were fighting a war on two fronts.

First, there was the external struggle with non-Christians, whether with Jews who were casting Jewish Christians out of the synagogues, or with Roman authorities who saw Christians as a threat to the civil order.

Second, and perhaps even more difficult and destructive, there were conflicts within the Body of Christ. There was an internal front that involved a battle against false teaching and false teachers.

One of the greatest early struggles for authentic believers and for true churches was controversy over Christology. Namely, there were those who denied that the Lord Jesus had been a true man. Today the main problem is that people deny the true deity of Christ, but in the early days the more common problem was that they denied his true humanity.

They asked, How can you say that Jesus was true God and also say that he was a true man who was conceived in the virgin’s womb, who slept, hungered, thirsted, wept, perspired, and, most of all, who suffered and died on the cross?

Their explanation was that Jesus had not been a true man, but that he had only appeared to be a man. The Greek verb for to appear to be is dokeo. Later theologians would call those who denied our Lord’s true humanity, Docetists and their belief Docetism.

1 John is a writing from the Apostle John that was composed, in part, in order to help a group of Christians, a church, which had been stirred up by a group of false teachers who denied Christ’s true humanity. We get various clues about this throughout 1 John.

One clue of schism in this church is found in 1 John 2:19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us…”

Another huge clue of dispute is found in 1 John 4:1-3, which contains a call for discernment (“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God…”). Some had denied that Christ had come “in the flesh” (as a true man), and so, John says, they had a spirit of “antichrist” (opposing right teaching about Christ).

John wrote to provide these believers with a testimony that he, as an Apostle, was an eyewitness to the life of Christ, whom he calls “the Word of life,” and that Christ was and is a true man. He did not just appear to be a man. He was not a ghost, a specter, a spirit, a hologram, but a true flesh and blood man. If Christ had not been a true man he could not have sympathized with us in our weakness, and if he were not true God he could not have saved us to the utmost.

The Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Vision (1.26.24): The Tower of Babel

 


Image: Peter Bruegel the Elder, The (Little) Tower of Babel, c. 1563,
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Genesis 11.

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven…” (Genesis 11:4a).

“And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded” (Genesis 11:5).

Moses reports that in the time after the flood men came into the land of Shinar and said, “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower….” The mention of a tower likely indicates that they thought to defend themselves, rather than depend upon the protection and provision of the LORD.

Moses adds of their design for this tower, “whose top may reach unto heaven.” Many have seen spiritual significance in this description. These men literally had lofty visions of what their status would be. The sky was the limit. They could lift themselves up by their ingenuity and labors “unto heaven,” into the abode or realm of God himself.

So, it is a picture of man in his pride. In the Scriptures we often read of a contrast between God who is in heaven and lowly man who is on earth. Consider:

Psalm 115:16: “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.”

Ecclesiastes 5:2: “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

There is a sense here of men leaving their rightful station or standing in life and attempting to put themselves in the place of God.

We soon read, however, in Genesis 11:5, “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower….” What we are being taught here is that the actions of man on earth never go unnoticed by the LORD. He may be quiet for a season. He may give men over to their own devises and inclinations, but there always comes a time when he arrives to inspect the cities we have built and the towers we have erected.

Meditation on this account in Genesis 11, may lead us more soberly to heed the exhortation offered by the apostle Peter, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Vision (1.19.24): The Table of Nations

 


These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood (Genesis 10:32).

Genesis 10 has traditionally been referred to as the Table of Nations. It presents the descendants of the three sons of Noah, and the nations that sprang from them, after the flood, the line of Japheth (vv. 2-5); the line of Ham (vv. 6-20); and the line of Shem (vv. 21-31). 70 descendants or nations are listed (14 from Japheth; 35 from Ham; and 21 from Shem). This is a number of fullness (10 x sabbath) and completion.

In the end Genesis 10 might be considered a missions chapter, a “Great Commission” chapter.

It is a reminder that God is sovereignly working out his plan of redemption in a post-fall, post-flood world. The gospel had first been proclaimed in Genesis 3:15. The seed of the woman will eventually crush the serpent’s head, even as he bruises the Messiah’s heel.

Sinful men and the serpent, however, will not go down easily. Their rebellion will encompass the pride that will lead to Babel and the division of languages (Genesis 11), which will make it even harder for the Gospel to reach all men, humanly speaking.

Yet this will not thwart the Lord’s plan of redemption, to seek and to save all kinds of men from all over the earth. His gospel will reach even those at the farthest “isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands” (v. 5).

Luke 10 provides an intriguing parallel to Genesis 10. In Luke 10, Luke offers a unique record of the time when Christ sent out a group of men “into every city and place” (v. 1) to declare, “The kingdom of God is come nigh to you” (v. 9). Guess how many he sent? 70. See Luke 10:1-3. Do you think that was by accident? Of course not. Luke even records the report of the 70 as they returned in triumph (v. 17), and Christ’s response (vv. 18-20).

After his resurrection, Christ commissioned the apostles to go and teach all nations (Matthew 28:19-20)

Before his ascension, Christ told his apostles that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

What had been divided by sin and the fall will be united in Christ. God would have some from every nation, even the nations that hated him and resisted him the most, Egyptians (v. 13) and Philistines (v. 14), and Hebrews (v. 25),  to come unto him.

Even men like us.

In a book on missions, an evangelical author once wrote, ‘Where worship is not, mission is.’ Where there are nations where men do not know and serve the one true God our Father, and his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, through his Holy Spirit, there must be missions.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, January 12, 2024

The Vision (1.12.24): Noah's Failure

 


Image: Noah's Drunkenness, French manuscript illumination, c. 1250.

Note: Devotional based on last Sunday's sermon on Genesis 9:18-29.

Genesis 9:20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

The Lord graciously preserved the life of Noah and his sons from the flood. He then blessed them and made a covenant with them, promising never to destroy the earth again by means of a flood, and he set the bow in the clouds as a token of that covenant (Genesis 8:1, 11).

The world after the flood was a time of hope and promise, but in Genesis 9:18-29 we read, to our dismay, of Noah’s failure. He becomes drunken and uncovered in shame.

What application can we draw from this description of Noah’s failure?

We are reminded of a reality for all men, even redeemed men, as Noah was. There are remaining corruptions within us. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8). He was a just (justified) man (6:9). But after the flood he fell into grievous sin.

Noah anticipates one who will come after him from his line, King David, the man after God’s own heart, the sweet Psalmist of Israel. But David fell into adultery with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11). He arranged the death of her husband. He was a murderer. And yet when confronted by Nathan the prophet, he repented in sackcloth and ashes, penned Psalm 51, and pleaded with the LORD, “Create in me a clean heart O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (v. 10).

Even the great apostle Paul would write of a struggle within him in Romans 7 when he spoke of doing that which he knew was not right and failing to do what he knew was right, because of sin dwelling in him (see Romans 7:15-20). He cried out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (v. 24). He then declared, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (v. 25).

For every Noah who truly knows and loves the Lord but who succumbs to sin, whether drunkenness or lasciviousness or a thousand other sins, his only hope is the righteous life of Christ given to him by grace through faith. This does not permit him to excuse his sin, but it allows him to repent of his sin and to strive after new obedience.

Noah’s failure, like all our spiritual failures, in the end, only shines greater light upon Christ’s victory.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, January 05, 2024

The Vision (1.5.24): That they all may be one

 


Image: Some CRBC youth sing at a retirement home outreach in December, 2023.

In our first Midweek Meeting of this New Year (January 3, 2024), I offered a meditation on Christ’s so-called High Priestly Prayer as recorded in John 17.

It was fitting to begin the year with reflection on this prayer from our Lord at the initial prayer meeting of the New Year. In his first advent ministry Christ showed himself to be a man of prayer, and even now he “ever liveth to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25).

The apostle John did not record Christ’s prayer of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, as did the other Evangelists, but he alone did record this prayer in John 17 in which Christ offered petitions before the Father as our Great High Priest (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16).

This prayer has traditionally been understood to consist of three main petitions:

First, Christ prayed for himself (17:1-5). As true God, the Son has shared in fellowship with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity. As true man without sin he enjoyed perfect harmony with the Father and rightly was in constant communion with him. With the cross and resurrection in view in which his glory would be fully revealed, Christ acknowledged, “the hour is come” (17:1; cf. John 2:4; 7:6), and prayed, “glorify thy son” (17:1; cf. 17:5).

Second, Christ prayed for the original disciples or apostles (17:6-19). What a task was about to be set before them! They would be given the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Christ prayed for their holiness, “Sanctify them, through thy truth; thy word is truth” (17:17).

Third, he prayed for those who would come to the faith through the witness of the apostles (17:20-26), beginning, “Neither pray I for them [the apostles] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (17:20). These men would indeed preach the gospel, and they would write the NT Scriptures, which continue to be preached to this day. Christ was praying for us, those who would come to faith by hearing Christ preached in the Scriptures. The focus of his petition was for their unity: “That they all may be one….” (17:21 ff.).

            As we enter this New Year may the Lord grant unity to his church. Let the unity we have enjoyed in this local church continue, as we love the brethren and bear one another’s burdens in the name of Christ. Let that unity be demonstrated through our fellowship with likeminded Reformed Baptist churches throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, this nation, and the world. Let it also be demonstrated through our unity with all other churches where Christ is at the center, the Bible is believed and preached, and the core tenants of orthodox Christian faith and practice are upheld.

            Let us indeed “all be one.”

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Personal Reflections: A Dozen Interesting Reads in 2023

 


“…when thou comest, bring with thee… the books….” (2 Timothy 4:13). Both ministry and scholarship require constant reading. Here are a few notes on a dozen interesting books, of various stripes, read in 2023 (listed in no particular order). I posted similar articles on reading in 2021 and 2022.

One: Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, Expanded Edition (University of Chicago, 1948, 2013): 203 pp.

This is the best-known work of Weaver (1910-1963), the Southern philosopher, historian, and literary critic, with roots in Asheville, North Carolina, who taught at the University of Chicago. Weaver critiques the “hysterical optimism” of modern post-WW2 American society, including the “Great Stereopticon” and the “Spoiled-Child Psychology” of modern life.

Two: Eusebius Pamphilus, The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine (original 337; Aeterna Press, 1845, 2014): 243 pp.

The “father of church history” wrote this glowing account of the Roman Emperor who brought an end to the Diocletian persecution of Christianity and became a patron and protector of the fledgling Christian movement.

Three: Robert P. Ericksen, Theologians Under Hitler (Yale University Press, 1885, 1986): 245 pp.

This book offers a compelling survey and analysis of the life and writings of three German theologians whose reputations were tarnished by their association with National Socialism: Gerhard Kittel (editor of the famed multi-volume Bible dictionary); Paul Althaus; and Emmanuel Hirsch.

Four: Robert C. Gregg, Trans. and Introduction, Athanasius: The Life of Anthony and the Letter to Marcellinus (Paulist Press, 1980): 166 pp.

This book presents a translation of two works by Athanasius, the fierce defender of the Trinitarian orthodoxy. The work on Anthony offers a glimpse into the ascetic piety of the famed desert father and his influence on monasticism.

Five: B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (MacMillan, 1925): 622 pp.

This groundbreaking work by the English New Testament scholar Streeter famously expanded upon the “two source” hypothesis solution to the so-called Synoptic Problem by suggesting four sources (Mark, Q, M, and L). The “assured results” of source criticism have since (rightly) fallen on hard times, but this work still offers an interesting look into what was “cutting edge” scholarship in the early twentieth century. 2024 will mark the 100th anniversary of this book.

Six: Francis Watson, The Fourfold Gospel: A Theological Reading of the New Testament Portraits of Jesus (Baker Academic, 2016): 207 pp.

Watson offers a “theological reading” of the four Gospels. Of special interest are his references to how the Eusebian canons represent an early effort to provide a harmonious understanding of the fourfold Gospel.

Seven: Geoffrey Thomas, In the Shadow of the Rock (Reformation Heritage Books, 2022): 325 pp.

I read this biography of the Welsh Calvinistic Baptist preacher anticipating his speaking at the 2023 Keach Conference. An interesting memoir of 50 years in pastoral ministry in one church, but also offering insight into Westminster Seminary (where Thomas studied) in its “glory days” and anecdotes on various key figures in evangelicalism, including D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Albert Martin, and others. I’ve written a review of the book that I hope will be published in 2024.

Eight: C. H. Spurgeon, Commentary on Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom (Banner of Truth, 1893, 2019): 442 pp.

I read this work, the only complete commentary on a NT book penned by Spurgeon, section by section as I preached expositionally through Matthew and finished it last year when I completed the sermon series. It offers a treasure trove of homiletical insights and pithy aphorisms for the preacher. Very useful for those preaching through the First Gospel.

Nine: Iain R. K. Paisley, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans: Prepared in a Prison Cell (Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, 1968): 191 pp.

I got this book after returning home from a trip this year to Northern Ireland and stopping by the Martyrs Memorial Presbyterian Church in Belfast where this controversial Ulster politician and Free Presbyterian minister served. It is a “prison epistle” written while the author was jailed for his political activity in 1966. Like Spurgeon’s Matthew commentary, loaded with quotable quotes. A book written by a gifted orator. For a list of quotes, see this blog article.

Ten: Alister E. McGrath, A Life of John Calvin (Baker Academic, 1990, 1991, 1995): 332 pp.

I got this before going to the Calvin Congress in Grand Rapids and finished reading it shortly afterwards. Though I did not agree with every area of analysis, one of the best biographies of Calvin and overview of his writings I have read.

Eleven: John P. Thackway, Ed., Valiant for Truth: The Collected Writings of Bishop D. A. Thompson (Bible League Quarterly, 2020): 352 pp.

I worked my way slowly through this book last year. D. A. Thompson was a former bishop in the Free Church of England and editor of the Bible League Quarterly from 1961-1970. These are a collection of his devotional and scholarly articles from his days as BLQ editor. Thompson was a pious, erudite, winsome and capable defender of the “Reformation Text.” I’ve written a review of the book that I hope will be published in 2024.

Twelve: Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons (original 1862; Oxford World Classics, 2008): 296 pp.

I heard a mention of this book while listening to a podcast and was intrigued enough to give it a listen on LibriVox. Then I had to get a hard copy. It is a short, very readable novel. The central figure is Bazarov, a “nihilist” who comes home from university to challenge the views of his elders. It rejects the notion that overthrowing tradition is warranted in the name of “progress” and is especially poignant given what would happen in Russia just a few decades later.

JTR

Monday, January 01, 2024

Personal Reflections: A Dozen Memorable Events of 2023

 


Image: CRBC Meeting House, Louisa, Virginia

Here are a few reflections on at least a dozen highlights from 2023 in general chronological order. I’ve composed similar lists the last couple of years. Look here for 2021 and 2022 reflections.

First: My oldest daughter Hannah was married to her husband James on January 7, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia. I was honored to walk her down the aisle and co-officiate at the wedding with their Pastor.

Second: On Friday, April 14, 2023 I was happy to serve as host Pastor for the inaugural Presbyterion, Spring Pastors’ Fraternal, hosted by the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia, meeting at CRBC, and to offer a review of a chapter, along with three other brothers, of James Renihan’s Exposition of the 1689 Confession.

Third: I greatly enjoyed teaching a weeklong intensive course on the Gospels for IRBS-UK in Ramsbottom, England from April 24-28, 2023. I also had the privilege of preaching at the Trinity Baptist Church in Charlesworth and the Trinity Grace Church in Ramsbottom on Sunday, April 23, 2023.

Fourth: My second daughter Lydia was married to her husband Brendon on June 3, 2023 in Alexandria, Virginia. I was honored to walk her down the aisle and to co-officiate at the wedding with one of their Pastors.

Fifth: I traveled to the UK June 12-17, 2023 to speak at two Trinity & Text conferences for the Trinitarian Bible Society. I gave lectures on “The Providential Preservation of Scripture” and on “The Trinity and the Text of John 1:18” in Lisburn, Northern Ireland on June 14 and in London on June 16. I enjoyed good fellowship and travel with Samet Sahin of Turkey and Jonathan Arnold of TBS. I also preached in midweek meetings at Westminster Baptist Church in central London and Ridley Hall Evangelical Church in Battersea.

Sixth: I taught the Life and Teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Luke to the children of CRBC during our annual Vacation Bible School, June 19-22, 2023 in Louisa, Virginia. Later in the summer, on July 21-22, 2023, I organized and oversaw the 2023 Virginia Reformed Baptist Youth Conference at Machen Retreat and Conference Center in Highland County, Virginia.

Seventh: I enjoyed a week of vacation with my family at the beach in Topsail Island, North Carolina July 10-15, 2023, which included a 90th birthday celebration for my father-in-law.

Eighth: My booklet Why John 7:53—8:11 Is In The Bible was published by the Trinitarian Bible Society. Along with several other articles and book reviews which appeared in various places, I also wrote an extended essay titled “Retrieving the Bibliology of John Owen” for the 2023 Journal of International Reformed Baptist Seminary.

Ninth: I attended the International Congress on Calvin Research, held at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 25-28, 2023, where I presented a paper on “John Calvin as Textual Critic in his Commentary on John” and got to visit the Meeter Center for Calvin Research. Some of my family came along for the trip and we got to watch several baseball games along the way including Tigers-Giants in Detroit and Pirates-Phillies in Pittsburg, as well as the minor league White Caps-TinCaps in Grand Rapids.

Tenth: I attended the 2023 Keach Conference at Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Warrenton, Virginia on Saturday, September 30, 2023 where I delivered the annual “Orientation” to the conference and enjoyed meeting and hearing Pastor Geoffrey Thomas of Wales.

Eleventh: I officiated at the wedding service for my niece and her husband at Ash Lawn Highland in Albemarle County, Virginia on October 28, 2023 and got to spend time with my siblings and their families.

Twelfth: I attended and had the privilege of giving two lectures on the “Authenticity of Scripture” and the “Accuracy of Scripture” at the 2023 Kept Pure in All Ages Conference hosted by the Five Solas OPC Church in Reedsburg, Wisconsin on November 3-4, 2023.

I am thankful for the Lord’s kindness in these and many other memorable moments in 2023. I am very blessed to pursue and do many things that I greatly enjoy.

SDG!

JTR