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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources


Living in Light of Two Ages



This Week at Christ Reformed Church (May 4-10)

Sunday Morning (May 10):  We will be considering Ezra 5, and how God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage his people after work on the temple had ceased.  Our Lord's Day worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  We are wrapping up our series on the Canons of Dort.  We will be considering the "conclusion" to the Canons of Dort, a portion of the Canons which are often overlooked.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (May 6)We are continuing our "Run Through the Letters of Paul," and we are working our way through Galatians 3:15-29.

The Academy:  No Academy Friday, May 8  

Our new Academy series, "The Great and Holy War" will resume on May 15, with a lecture entitled, "One Hundred Years Later"  How the consequences of the "Great War" still impact the world in which we live."

Throughout this series, we have been considering the legacy of World War One, including the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine (Israel), the roots of ISIS (the end of the Caliphate/Ottoman Empire), the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of Marxist-Leninism.  Our text for this series is Philip Jenkin's book,  The Great and Holy War

For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website:  Christ Reformed Church


"We Alone Will Build to the Lord" -- Ezra 4:1-24

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon,

Click Here


Audio Posted -- "The Great War: The Cessation of Hostilities"

Here's the audio from Friday's Academy lecture:

1).  The Treaty of Versailles (1919)

2).  The Balfour Declaration (1917)

The Great War: Lecture Three



This Week's White Horse Inn

The Ministry & Marks of the Church

Finding a church is often compared these days to shopping. That should not surprise us. Many churches, today, market themselves to a particular niche demographic. It’s all about branding. People who shop at Restoration Hardware aren’t the same folks who shop regularly at Walmart.

Some churches say, at least implicitly, we’re all about teaching doctrine, while others brand themselves as the home-base for evangelism, or a place for warm fellowship. Others are known for service and political engagement, whether conservative or liberal. If you are into liturgy, there are plenty of options out there for you too. But according to Acts 2, the first Christians gathered regularly for the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. As a result, the Lord was adding daily to the church, those being saved.

The Spirit creates the church through the Word, so the apostles’ teaching, particularly the good news of Christ’s saving work, was central. But it was the apostles’ teaching AND fellowship, submitting to each other in both doctrine and life. Believers shared their temporal goods with each other as well. Yet, the regular service also included the breaking of bread. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper were central alongside the preached Word as means of grace. In fact, in response to Peter’s proclamation of Christ, those who believed were baptized and the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians that they partake of communion whenever they come together as the church. The Lord’s Supper wasn’t an optional extra, but a regular means of grace. They gathered also for “the prayers.” Like a trellis, scripturally rooted liturgies train hearts to grow in the right direction together. These public prayers of the whole church in praise, confession, and petition aren’t just for people who go for high church stuff but shape the community’s response to the Lord’s work. And finally, we see the effect of this ministry was to attract unbelievers. The Lord was adding to the church daily, those who were being saved. As Peter said in his sermon, the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are a far off, as many the Lord our God calls to himself. Knowing what they believed and why, believers were able to witness to their neighbors.

In short, the first Christians didn’t have branding consultants. They didn’t do market research to identify their market niche demographic. You didn’t have churches dividing up these ministry emphases. They were all supposed to be places where the sheep were regularly bathed and fed, bound together by the ministry of Word and sacrament, and the prayer and praise of public worship.

Joining us on the program to talk about the importance of this ministry and the marks of the church, first of all is Jeff Mallinson, and second by Sam Allberry. Join us this week on the White Horse Inn as we look at the marks and ministry of Christ’s church.

Click Here


A Hill in Switzerland

This small hill, to the northwest of the city of Langnau-im-Emmental, in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland, was completely unknown to me as of this past Tuesday.  Yet, I've been looking for it for over twenty years, even though I never knew it existed.

I know that my family history is about as exciting to you, as your home movies would be to me.  But given the popularity of programs like, "Who Do You Think You Are?" and similar "find your ancestor" programs featuring sports stars, celebrities, and politicians, you may be familiar with the quest being made by many Americans to trace their family history and find their ancestral roots.  I've been on mine for over twenty years.

My quest began after my mom died in 1992.  I was going through her papers and found a typed funeral text for my paternal great-grandfather, Albert Riddlesbarger.  The minister (in the Grace Brethren Church) preached on Philippians 1:21: "to live is Christ, to die is gain."  It was a wonderful sermon focusing upon the resurrection.  But I had never heard of Albert Riddlesbarger.  I did not know that he was born in Illinois in 1857, or that my family had ever lived there.  My dad died when I was young, so did my grandfather, so this kind of information was never passed down to me. 

It bothered me so much to not know my own family history (there was a family legend that my grandfather Glenn had prepared a family tree but it was now long lost), that I started looking in earnest.  I began work on a detailed history of our family for my own sons, and have posted it on-line for any long-lost cousins who might find their way to it (A History of the Riddlebarger Family)

I quickly discovered that my grandfather had started his research back in the 1930's.  Along the way I made contact with grandsons of several of the Riddlebargers (in Pennsylvania) with whom my own grandfather had corresponded sixty years earlier.  That was wonderful--cousins I never knew I had! 

Eventually, I got back as far as "the boat."  I can document how the first of my line, Christian Retelsberger, came to America, arriving in Philadelphia in 1733.  He was a co-founder and an elder in a Reformed church (in South Carolina) which adhered to the Belgic Confession, the Augsburg 1540, and the First Helvetic Confession (that too was a pleseant surprise).  He's also the ancestor of anyone you meet or know named "Riddlebarger," "Riddleberger," "Riddlesberger," or "Riddlespurger" (or any variants therefore).  I know that the ship he arrived on--the Pink Mary--left Rotterdam earlier that same year.  But there the trail goes cold--the proverbial brick wall.  How do you find European ancestors from before 1730, when you are not even sure of the spelling of the surname, and have no clue as to your country of origin, except they were German-speakers?

So, I took a y-DNA test, and actually found a living European cousin from the Rotlisberger family of the Canton of Bern.  He and I are an exact match, which means we share a common ancestor somewhere between twelve and fifteen generations ago.  I wanted to know more, so I took a more thorough DNA text, and found a link to yet another living Rotlisberger, also in the Canton of Bern. 

So, I know that my family name was anglicized from Rotlisberger to Riddlebarger, and that Christian Retelsberger's family originally had come from Bern (probably settling in the Alsace for a generation or two, before he came to America).  I also know my haplogroup type is G-P303 (rare for Europeans, and originates in the Levant--maybe I had ancestors among the Ninevites!).

When the possibility arose of a speaking engagement in Europe this fall, I began making tentative plans to visit Langau-im-Emmental, just to get a sense of where my kin once lived.  I thought I'd email one of these European cousins to see if he knew of any places I ought to visit.  I was about to get the surprise everyone looking for ancestors hopes to get.

He replied several days later--in a matter of fact way--"oh, yeah, there's a hill near Langau named the Rotlisberg, where our family lived.  If you come here, I'll take you there."  There's a hill in Switzerland for which my family is named?  You gotta be kidding me! 

The picture above is indeed the "Rotlisberg," and with that "matter of fact" reply, I found the one thing which every American looking for their ancestral roots can only hope to find, their ancestral home.  But I never even knew to look for the place because I had no idea such a place existed.  I now know where my family lived (before 1500 AD), that I have living European cousins, as well as a new addition to my bucket list.

My quest is finally over.  Well, no, not really.  Not until, Lord willing, I stand on the Rotlisberg and see it with my own eyes.  The hill might not be very big in size, but to me, it is huge!


"Before Abraham Was, I Am" -- John 8:48-59

The Thirtieth in a Series of Sermons on the Gospel of John

Jesus went to Jerusalem during the Feast of Booths and began teaching in the temple.  Crowds quickly gathered to hear him.  On the last day of the Feast, Jesus declared that he would be the one who will give the people of God living water (the gift of the Holy Spirit).  Jesus also declared that he was the light of the world.  Both declarations were loaded with messianic implications.  When the Pharisees arrived, they began to debate publically with Jesus, attempting to use his words against him, hoping to trap him in an error which would discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people.  The people watching were greatly divided about Jesus’ identity and mission.  Some believed in Jesus and possessed eternal life.  Others are said to “believe in Jesus” but do so only for a time and fall away when Jesus says something difficult, or does something they do not like.  Meanwhile, the Pharisees are plotting to kill Jesus, and the tension between Jesus and the Pharisees continues to intensify.  As it does, the Pharisees make their most serious charge against Jesus yet, and Jesus responds with the clearest declaration so far as to his divine identity.  

As we resume our series on John’s Gospel, we pick up where we left off last time in John 8 (with verse 48), during the so-called “conflict phase” of Jesus’s ministry (which includes the material in John 7-10).  In addition to speaking of himself as the source of living water and the light of the world, Jesus has been repeatedly speaking of the fact that he is about to go away, and that where he is going, no one can come.  Those who know John’s Gospel, know that Jesus was speaking about his own death, resurrection, and ascension which was drawing near.  Throughout this section of his Gospel, John has made it clear that Jesus’ hour has not yet arrived–the reason John gives as to why the Pharisees plot to put Jesus to death has not succeeded.  

After asserting himself to be the one who gives living water as well as the light of the world, the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees grows increasingly intense.  Forcing people in the crowd to decide whether they are with Jesus or against him, Jesus told those Jews who profess to believe him, “if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).  The proof that someone has eternal life (and therefore has genuine faith) is that they will abide (remain) by trusting in Jesus until the end of their lives.  Those who are truly Christ’s are preserved to the end in this faith by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Those who have temporary faith (not genuine) do not abide.  Because the saving work of Christ has not been applied to them, they will fall away when things get tough–as we saw in the “Bread of Life” discourse back in John 6 and here in the debate recorded in John 8.

The Jews are totally perplexed about Jesus’ comment about him setting them free since even though Israel was then under Roman occupation, the Jews were back in the land and they were still free to practice their religion.  Jesus will explain this matter to them.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”  The Jews still do not grasp the fact that Jesus is using slavery as a metaphor for the guilt and power of sin, and that he speaks of freedom in terms of that redemption which he will accomplish on the cross to set his people free.  The Jews challenge Jesus by reminding him that they are children of Abraham.  Why would they need to be set free?  What kind of freedom can Jesus provide which they don’t already have (except political freedom)?

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here


This Week at Christ Reformed Church (April 27-May 3)

Sunday Morning (May 3):  As we continue to work our way through the books of Ezra-Nehemiah, we come to Ezra 4:1-24, and an unexpected interruption of the rebuilding of the temple.  Our Lord's Day worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  We are continuing our series on the Canons of Dort.  We are covering the fifth head of doctrine and are now in the "refutation of errors."  This week, we are covering refutations 6-9 and the final accusations raised by the Arminians.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (April 29)We are continuing our "Run Through the Letters of Paul," and we are working our way through Galatians 3:15-29.


The Academy:  Friday, May 1 @ 7:00 p.m.  

Our new Academy series is entitled "The Great and Holy War" and will be a lecture and discussion of the legacy of World War One, including the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine (Israel), the roots of ISIS (the end of the Caliphate/Ottoman Empire), the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of Marxist-Leninism.

This week we will watch the video (note the time--7:00 p.m.): "War Without End" from the series The First World War, based upon Hew Strachan's book, narrated and produced by Jonathan Lewis, and then our lecture (@ 8:00 p.m.), is entitled: "The Cessation of Hostilities"  The Treaty of Versailles, and the Balfour Declaration

Our text for this series is Philip Jenkin's book,  The Great and Holy War

For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website:  Christ Reformed Church


"The House of God" -- Ezra 3:1-13

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon:  Click Here


Audio Posted -- "The Great War: Who Started It and Why?"

Here's the audio from last Friday's Academy Lecture.

1).  What are the causes of the Great War?

2).  What is just war theory, and how should it have been applied by the participants?

3).  How did Christian progressives and fundamentalists view the Great War?

The Great War: Lecture Two


This Week's White Horse Inn

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament (Part Two)

This week on the White Horse Inn we finish our two-part series on how to find Christ in the Old Testament. We are joined once more by Nancy Guthrie, who has written a five-volume book series addressing this topic, entitled Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament.

The focus of this discussion centers on three of Nancy’s books, The Son of David: Seeing Jesus in the Historical Books, The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books, and The Word of the Lord: Seeing Jesus in the Prophets. Join us as we learn to see Christ from these Old Testament books on the White Horse Inn.

Click Here