Archives For Mike Riccardi

Inerrancy SummitIt’s hard to believe that Shepherds’ Conference is next week. For those of us who have the privilege of being around Grace Community Church all year round, it’s difficult to capture the sense of anticipation that’s been brewing over the last 15 months or so. It really is like Christmastime over here, and it’s such a privilege to witness that enthusiasm—from the leadership to the nearly 1200 volunteers (!) that will be serving the men who attend this historic event.

And historic it will be, as the 2015 Shepherds’ Conference is, more precisely, the Inerrancy Summit. Sixteen—count ‘em: sixteen—of the most trusted voices in evangelicalism will join Pastor John MacArthur for an unprecedented marathon of eighteen sessions of devotion to the inerrancy of Scripture. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. If you’re not able to join us next week, do make sure to watch by livestream. It’s an event you won’t want to miss.

In the spirit of next week, then, I wanted to post something today on the topic of inerrancy. Several months ago, I read the then-recently released Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy, intrigued to know what the other three views (i.e., besides inerrancy and errancy) would be. Turns out there really aren’t more than two views, but such is the nature of things.

I thought the book was really helpful in singling out key issues that need to be addressed today. As you might have expected, I most appreciated Al Mohler’s contribution, in which he presents and defends the church’s historic position on the inerrancy, infallibility, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture—i.e., the view most clearly articulated in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Today, I want to share some quotes and notes from that chapter, with the hope of priming the pump for next week’s Summit.

Some are just direct quotes from Mohler that are helpful and incisive. Others are my own thoughts as I spring-boarded from what I read. They’re broken down by the chapter headings and page numbers are provided. Quotes are indented, with any of my comments below, flush left.

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At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, . . . and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
– Philippians 2:10–11 –

Name Above All NamesThe wonderful hymn of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation reaches its climax in these verses. Paul has said that the Father exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him the name. He’s said it was the name which is above every name. And here he says that at that name—which is better rendered: in honor of that name—every knee is going to bow.

So what’s the name? Jesus has a lot of names. Is it: Son of Man? Son of God? The Alpha and Omega? The First and the Last? The Faithful and True? The Beloved Son in whom the Father is well-pleased? Is it Christ? The Messiah? Is it the long-awaited prophet? Is it our Great High Priest? Is it the King of kings?

Finally, the almost unbearable suspense is broken, and the Apostle Paul tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

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integrity or ethics conceptIn 2 Corinthians 1, Paul is defending himself against the accusations of the false apostles, who were taking every possible opportunity to bring reproach upon Paul and his ministry in the eyes of the Corinthians. In what was actually a desire to be loving and considerate toward the Corinthians (cf. 2 Cor 1:23–2:4), Paul made a change in his travel plans in regards to his visits to Corinth. And like unscrupulous politicians running a smear campaign against their opponent, the false apostles seized upon this change of plans and blew it entirely out of proportion.

“The man talks out of both sides of his mouth! He’s undependable! Untrustworthy! He’s a fleshly man who goes back on his word because he’s guided by no higher principle than his own fallen nature! He doesn’t depend on the Spirit’s guidance, otherwise how do you explain the fickleness? And if you can’t trust him to get travel plans right, how are you going to trust his apostleship? How are you going to trust his gospel?”

Paul responds to these charges in 2 Corinthians 1:15–22. But as you read that passage, it doesn’t quite sound like a conventional defense of changing itinerary. Before he defends his conduct, Paul defends his integrity. And he does so by appealing to his theology. The reality of who God is, and what He has accomplished in Christ and in the Gospel, is the basis for all of his behavior. Paul’s conduct is rooted in his message. And for those of us who would claim to be ministers of that same Gospel (which is all of us!), the same must be true of us. I hope we’ll be instructed as we look into three of those arguments that appear in 2 Corinthians 1:18–20.

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Picture a high school math teacher that casts doubt on the textbook he’s teaching from. How adept at mathematics do you think his students will be? Or imagine a quarterback that doesn’t have confidence in his coach’s playbook. How far can the team progress into the season?

Paul Washer TMAI

These scenarios illustrate the reality of much of the theological education on the mission field today. Liberal Christianity and skepticism regarding the truthfulness of the Bible have been exported from the shores of America, and flown throughout the globe into the remotest regions on the planet. The consequences of the aspersion cast upon the text of Scripture have been devastating to the mission field. Many well-intentioned church leaders taught by Western missionaries mimic the unbelief of their teachers and doubt the veracity of Scripture. As a result, they base their ministries on pragmatic strategies and human experience—everything but the Word of God. And why wouldn’t they, if Scripture is nothing more than just another voice in the conversation? As you can imagine, the spiritual health and vitality of these churches suffer for lack of being fed from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4). In fields where there was once an unwavering loyalty to God and His Word, missionaries—not pagans or atheists—are sowing the seeds of doubt and unbelief, rather than the seed of the Word of God which brings a true spiritual harvest.

The Master’s Academy International (TMAI) believes that as missionaries go into the field to bring new converts to a saving knowledge of Christ, it is of utmost importance that they instill in their young “Timothys” a lofty view of Scripture—reverence for God and His Word. It is TMAI’s conviction that if missionaries do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, they have no business being involved in disciple-making through theological education.

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Abortion vs WarForty-two years ago next week—on January 22, 1973—the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe v. Wade that a child in the womb is not to be considered a human person. Since that time, over 56 million babies have died in America under the sanction of the law. In January 1984, 31 years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan designated the third Sunday of every January as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That’s this Sunday.

As we take time this weekend to remember that the fight against this most tangible evil in our society is far from over, I thought I would pool together some of the posts that The Cripplegate has run on abortion to this point. I pray they serve you as you think, reflect, mourn, and pray about how you might give yourself to bring the Gospel of Christ to bear on the issue of abortion.

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Shoulders of GiantsIt was Isaac Newton who famously penned the sentence, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In saying this, he meant to communicate his respect for and dependence on the great minds that had come before him. Whatever advances he was able to make, he recognized that he stood upon the work of those who had come before him, giving him greater views of the heights he was to ascend.

We’re very familiar with that principle in the Christian life. And if we’re not, we should be. I am able to make greater progress in my pursuit of Christ in my day-to-day life by reading the insights of those who have come before in this race, and who have long since reached the glorious finish line after a lifetime of faithfulness.

Today I wanted to gather a bunch of quotes that I’ve come across lately. I discovered some as I enjoyed some leisure reading over the Christmas holiday. Others I found as I work on a research project for seminary. And others I came across on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, as friends shared them with me. It’s by reading the thoughts of spiritual giants like these — by standing on their shoulders — that I am helped along in my worship of Christ. And so I wanted to share some of them with you. Read them slowly. Take them in. I hope it makes for an encouraging Friday.

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New Year 2015As we enter the beginning of the New Year, many people are reflecting on the previous year and how they’ve lived their lives, and are making resolutions and determinations to live better in the coming year, whatever that may mean. The process seems to involve a kind of refocusing on things that are important to us so that when we will have come to the end of this next year we will look even more favorably on it than the previous one.

Though I’m a day late, as we anticipate the challenges and opportunities of 2015, I want to write an open letter of sorts that focuses on the most important realities in the world. And the addressee of my open letter is you. No matter who you are—whether young in the faith, a seasoned saint, or not a believer in Jesus at all; whether we’re good friends, have only spoken a few times, or if I don’t know you from Adam—I can think of nothing more profitable that I’d like to say directly to you. And perhaps the most interesting distinctive about this open letter for 2015 is that it’s nothing new. It’s the same old message for a brand new year, because it’s the only message that is sufficient to transcend all times and cultures. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll read carefully.

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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
– John 1:14 -

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been considering Christmas according to John, as John gives us a fresh, theological look into the significance of Christmas in the opening of his Gospel. My goal has been to fight against the familiarity of Christmas and cause us to be properly affected by the glory of the incarnation as John presents it, particularly in John 1:14.

Two weeks ago, we looked at how Yahweh dwelt among His people in His tabernacle. Then, last Friday, we considered how the dwelling place of Yahweh is inseparable from His glory. We saw that first in the tabernacle, then in the temple, and finally in Jesus. And so John is proclaiming to his audience that in the same way that the glory which filled the tabernacle and temple were Yahweh’s own self-expression and the manifestation of His presence, so this Jesus is Yahweh’s own self-expression and the manifestation of His presence.

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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory
– John 1:14 -

Last Friday, we looked at the significance of John’s use of the word “dwelt” in John 1:14. I argued that by using the peculiar word for to pitch a tent, John was calling our attention to the Tabernacle of Israel, where God condescended to reveal Himself to Israel for worship and communion. The climax of the story of the Tabernacle comes in Exodus 40:34–38, where Yahweh’s glory fills the Tabernacle, signifying that He will dwell—that He will take up residence—with His people.

That scene sheds light on the relationship between the two phrases in John 1:14: “and [He] dwelt among us,” fits perfectly with “and we saw His glory.” There is an inseparable connection between the (a) dwelling place of God, and (b) His glory that fills that place. The dwelling of God is inseparable from the glory of God.

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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…
– John 1:14 -

If we’re reading through this verse in our daily Bible reading, we’re likely to zip right by it with little fanfare. We read, simply, that Jesus “dwelt” among us. And when we think of the idea of “dwelling” we just think of “hanging out.” But there’s much more going on in what John is saying than it sounds to us English-speakers. He uses a peculiar word here. There are more common Greek words for “to dwell,” but he chooses skēnoō. Now, the word skēnē in Greek means “tent,” and skēnoō is the verb form. So we could render it, “to pitch a tent.” John tells us that this Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.

That’s a weird way to talk, isn’t it? Especially since we don’t have any Scripture that tells us that Jesus actually pitched any literal tent during his time on Earth. Why say it this way? He’s got at least two other words that he could use here. But John uses this particular word because he wants his readers—who would be familiar with the history of Israel—to recall the tabernacle, the tent of meeting (Ex 27:21), where God met with the Israelites in the Old Testament.

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