Monday, July 22, 2024

Book Review: W. Gary Crampton: From Paedobaptism to Credobaptism: A Study of the Westminster Confession and Infant Baptism


Dr. Crampton died last week on 7.17.24. I posted this video version of my review of his book which I recorded in 2011.
I also posted to my page the written version of my review which appeared in the Reformed Baptist Trumpet, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2011):13-15. Read it here.


Friday, July 19, 2024

The Vision (7.19.24): Fellowhelpers [synergoi] to the Truth


Image: St. John, Frans Hals, 1625, Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 3 John 1-8:

We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth (3 John 8).

In his third epistle, the apostle John addresses Gaius (v. 1), likely a faithful minister in the church, commending and exhorting him to continue to receive and help orthodox teachers who sought his hospitality and support. In so doing, John says, “we might be fellowhelpers in the truth.”

Behind the compound noun “fellowhelpers” is the Greek plural noun synergoi. We might say “synergists.” This term appears at least twelve other times in the NT, all else in Paul’s writings. Compare:

In Romans 16:3 Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila as “my helpers in Christ Jesus.” They took him into their home when he first came to Corinth (see Acts 18:1-3).

He uses the same term to describe a man name Urbanus as his helper in Romans 16:9 and Timothy in Romans 16:21.

In 1 Corinthians 3:9 he says to the Corinthian church, “For we are labourers together with God…”

In 2 Corinthians 1:24 he refers to himself and those who ministered with him before the Corinthians as “helpers of your joy.”

In 2 Corinthians 8:23 he refers to Titus as “my partner [koin┼Źnos] and helper [synergos] concerning you.”

In Philippians 2:25 he refers to Ephaphroditus as his “companion in labour.”

In Phillippians 4:3 he makes mention of men like the “true yokefellow” and Clement who would try to broker peace between two women locked in dispute [Euodia and Synteche] as “my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.”

In Colossians 4:10-11 he commends Aristarchus, Marcus, and Justus as “fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God.”

In 1 Thessalonians 3:2 he refers to Timothy as “our fellowlabourer in the gospel” (cf. Romans 16:21).

In Philemon 1:1 he refers to Philemon as “our dearly beloved, and fellow labourer.”

Later in the same letter, he names four men, Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, and Lucas as “my fellowlabourers” (Philemon 1:24).

Here in 3 John, the apostle John takes up the same term and uses it, as did Paul, to refer to those who were willing to serve the Lord within his church, alongside of others, as helpers and laborers.

It does not refer to synergy in salvation. Salvation is monergistic (an act of God alone), not synergistic. As Jonah said in the belly of the great fish, “Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). But we do believe in synergy in ministry.

The Lord is pleased to use those who will labor in synergy with the Lord and with one another to build his kingdom.

How do we do that?

Through faithful presence and participation.

Through faithful giving.

Through faithful hospitality.

Through faithful praying.

Through faithful interest in the cause of Christ and his kingdom.

So, let it be said of us that we too are “fellowhelpers” to the truth.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Book Review: Can We Recover the Text of the New Testament?

I've posted to my page my written review of Can We Recover the Text of the New Testament?, which just came out in Puritan Reformed Journal (July 2024): 178-182. You can read it here.

Several months ago I also did a podcast version of the review:


Saturday, July 13, 2024

Book Review: Valiant for the Truth, The Collected Writings of Bishop D. A. Thompson

I've posted to my page my written review of Valiant for the Truth: The Collected Writings of Bishop D. A. Thompson, former editor of the BLQ, which just came out in Puritan Reformed Journal (July 2024): 182-185. You can read it here.

A couple months ago I also did this video version of the review:


Friday, July 12, 2024

The Vision (7.12.24): Look to Yourselves (2 John 7-13)


Image: Saint John of Patmos, South German, c. 1460-70, The National Gallery, London.

Note: Devotion based on last Sunday's sermon on 2 John 7-13.

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward (2 John 8).

In the closing verses of John’s brief second epistle to a church and her members (“the elect lady and her children” v. 1), the apostle offers three specific admonitions under the general call, “Look to yourselves”:

First, he warns against false teachers and false teachings (2 John 7-9). He calls them “deceivers” and “an antichrist” (v. 7). He charges them with not abiding in “the doctrine of Christ,” referring both to the teaching Christ gave to them (like the New Commandment in John 13:34-35) and also right teaching about Christ (Christology). John likely has in mind here refuting the same “false prophets” and antichrists” he denounced in 1 John 4:1-3, who denied that Christ had come “in the flesh” (i.e., that he was and is a true man).

Second, he warns against extending hospitality and even greetings to these false teachers (2 John 10-11). Hospitality among family and friends was essential for travel in the first century, especially for Christian ministers and preachers. This is why there are repeated calls for hospitality in the NT (see Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). Here, however, John reminds the church that the “welcome mat” was not to be offered to false teachers, nor were they even to be given greetings (“God speed”) on their travels.

Third, he encourages “face to face” fellowship among believers, as well as fellowship among churches (2 John 12-13). John expresses his desire not merely to write to the saints “with paper and ink,” today we might say by keyboard and screen, but to see them “face to face.” Paul had likewise warned believers not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 13:25). We should place a high priority on spending time in person with the brethren. John closes his letter by sending greetings from “the children of thy elect sister” (the members of a sister church, perhaps the church at Ephesus where John served) (v. 13).

When the church at Antioch had controversy over circumcision and salvation, they appealed to the church at Jerusalem for help in discernment (see Acts 15). We as individual believers need not only the “face to face” fellowship of the brethren, but, corporately, as a church, we need intentional fellowship with sister churches.

Through the inscripturation of 2 John, these admonitions can be applied to every church across the ages, including our own. Let us then look to ourselves in these areas as we move forward in service to Christ.

Blessings, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, July 05, 2024

The Vision (7.5.24): Walking in Truth and Love


Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 John 1-6:

“in truth and love” (2 John 3).

Whereas John’s first General Epistle (1 John) has been described as being more like a sermon or doctrinal treatise, his second epistle is clearly a letter. It begins, “The elder to the elect lady and her children…” (v. 1).  John the apostle, calls himself an elder. Peter the apostle did the same (cf. 1 Peter 5:1). His recipient, “the elect lady and her children” is likely a reference to a sister church and her members (cf. 2 John 13, “The children of thy elect sister greet thee”).

The apostle commends to this church grace, mercy and truth in the name of the triune God “in truth and love” (v. 3). Those two terms—truth and love—are in fact key themes for John.

In v. 4 he notes his delight in finding the “children [members]” of this church “walking [conducting themselves] in truth.” This likely means that he found them to be doctrinally sound. We know there were problems with false prophets or antichrists who had denied that Christ had come “in the flesh” (i.e., they denied the Lord Jesus’ true humanity) (see 1 John 4:1-3).

Friends, we glorify God when we believe right things about him. We glorify Christ when we confess right things about him. We must hold to right doctrine and walk in truth.

In vv. 5-6 John also exhorts the church to follow Christ’s New Commandment (John 13:34-35) and “love one another” (v. 5). Twice in v. 6 he uses the metaphor of walking to urge right conduct: “that we walk after his commandments” and “as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”

So, let us evaluate ourselves and our church.

Are we walking in truth? Do we have concern to hold right doctrine?

Are we walking in love? Do we seek to love one another as Christ has loved us.

The exhortations to walk in truth and love, echoes the Great Commandment taught by Christ, Love God (by believing right things about God) and love your neighbor as yourself (cf. Mark 12:28-31).

I recently read a biography of Robert Charles (better known as R. C.) Sproul (1939-2017) (Stephen Nichols, R. C. Sproul: A Life [Crossway, 2021]).

Sproul was a Pittsburg boy who in his first year of college on an athletic scholarship was converted after sitting in on a Bible study on Ecclesiastes 11:3, “and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” He saw himself as that fallen and rotting tree apart from Christ.

When he went home and excitedly told his liberal hometown minster of his conversion, the man answered, “If you believe in the physical resurrection, you’re a [darn] fool.” Yet Sproul did believe, and, thankfully, he found orthodox mentors to affirm and guide him.

He went on to develop a dynamic teaching ministry that would influence myriads and still has an impact today through his books, as well as video and audio archives of his teaching. He walked in truth.

He was also known for his personal ministry, his care for family and friends, his love for the church. He walked in love.

In fact, when Sproul died in 2017 his simple tombstone had only this epitaph, “HE WAS A KIND MAN REDEEMED BY A KINDER SAVIOR.”

Will such be said of us when we have finished our course? Might this be a fitting epitaph for us? Will we be found to have walked in truth and in love?

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle