Wiley Richards is a retired professor of theology and philosophy at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Latest Articles by W. WILEY RICHARDS
Sep 15, 2014
All too often at the Monday morning pastor’s conference, one man confides to a friend, “Man, if the Lord opens up a new ministry somewhere, I would welcome a recommendation. The church I am serving is not interested in growing. I need a change.” At the back of our minds is the image of an ideal church in which excitement fills the air. Yet, the Bible at no point commands us to grow a bigger church, choir or anything else. The Great Commission motivated the apostles because Jesus said, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14). Whatever it took to bring Him back, they would do. They scattered to the ends of the earth. That should be our motivating commitment, but in the meanwhile, what should be our spiritual goal for the church that we serve? The Bible makes that work abundantly clear.
Sep 9, 2014
In reading through the epistles, we notice an absence of emphasis on signs and wonders as gifts or functions within the churches. Peter said Jesus performed signs and wonders as indicating His approval by God (Acts 2:22). Following Pentecost, the apostles performed signs and wonders (Acts 2:43). Several other passages affirm the apostles exercised those gifts (Acts 5:12, 6:2, 7:36, 15:12). Paul also performed signs and wonders (Romans 15:19). As Hebrews 2:2-4 explains, God bestowed the power to confirm them who heard him (v. 3). Jesus also warned that merely claiming the power to prophesy in His name, cast out devils and perform wonderful works will gain no favor at the judgment (Matt. 7:21, 22). The only criterion is whether or not one has been born again. We now look at some doctrines that are more relevant for experiencing peace and fellowship.
Sep 1, 2014
In order to have a fuller appreciation for the message of the Book of Ephesians, we must go back to the magnificent teaching in chapter 1, verses 3-14. First, the Bible there provides us with God’s glorious plan for the ages as it centers around the blessed Trinity. It is set forth in verses 3-6. He chose—elected—to implement a way to show forth His glories by saving those who trust in the Son. He predestined to be saved anyone believing in the Son. Second, the Bible then gives in detail the saving work of the Son (vv. 7-12). The fundamental elements of His death on the cross will bring redemption, forgiveness, the inheritance and an unveiling of the mystery of God’s will according to what He has planned through Jesus. Third, the Bible highlights the work of the Holy Spirit (vv. 13-14). He is the seal, that is, God’s down payment, guaranteed by His presence in every believer. The Holy Spirit does not seal. He is the seal.
Aug 26, 2014
The Bible assigns to humans the responsibility for having dominion over fish, fowl and every living thing that moves upon the earth (Gen. 1:28). We can easily discern God’s will for us as caretakers of the natural order. However, our assigned text concerns not humanity’s oversight of the creation, but Israel’s mandate to observe the Sabbath year (Lev. 25:4). To understand that divine mandate we will need to delve a little deeper into the background of the seventh day, seventh year and 50th year. We will conclude with a brief application to us as Christians.
Aug 18, 2014
A person rises no higher than his or her prayer life. The opposite is also true. Failure in prayer often leads to failure in actions and character. Prayer focuses upon God and His Kingdom, yet the Kingdom-building God builds Kingdom servants through prayer. The elderly Daniel was a prayer warrior. Prayer was a daily habit of the administrator.
Aug 12, 2014
In approaching our assigned texts for this study, we must note the word “therefore” in verse six. It could be interpreted to mean, “on the basis of what was just written.” It points to the important ideas that shed light on the subsequent discussion. Two merit our attention. First, the Bible refers to the time when “the Chief Shepherd” appears (v. 4). He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11) and knows them by name (John 10:14). He is the Great Shepherd through the blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20). Second, Peter alludes to the crown of glory that does not fade away to be awarded at the Chief Shepherd’s appearing. James 1:12 speaks of the crown of life for those who love Jesus. Three other crowns are to be given out: the incorruptible crown for those practicing self-discipline (1 Cor. 9:25), the crown of rejoicing for the soul-winners (1 Thess. 2:19) and the crown of righteousness for those who love our Lord’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:8).
Aug 5, 2014
As we progress in our study of Peter’s writings, placing the writing in historical contest can be helpful. Peter wrote under the shadow of a sobering prophecy. Following his restoration and commission by Jesus after His resurrection, a portion of Jesus’ words were foreboding.
Jul 22, 2014
When witnessing to a woman in a home, I have sometimes asked her whether her husband is a Christian. It is not uncommon for her to say, “I don’t know. I will have to go ask him.” That answer tells me what it is she thinks indicates one’s spiritual condition, namely, whether one’s name is on a church roll somewhere. In fact, in conducting a funeral for a non-church attendee, family members go to a lot of trouble, hoping to find a record in church files that the deceased was a member. Being saved becomes equivalent to church membership. Remember, though, that just being good does not guarantee that one is saved. Let’s look at enduring faith.
Jul 22, 2014
In reading Peter’s epistles, I am reminded of a casual remark made by a former fellow student and dedicated pastor. He shared that as he tried to study in sermon preparation, his mind would wander from member to member as he recalled the special events they faced. He admitted his burden for them usually overcame his need to study. He would get up from his desk and go to them. He was not a dynamic preacher, but he was one of the best pastors I have known. When he was stricken with a terminal disease, he was steadfast in his dying commitment. Opining that we preachers must sometimes be called on to show people how to die, he did.
Jul 10, 2014
Peter and James, authors of New Testament books by those names, were intimately associated with Jesus. Neither Peter nor James ever directly quoted Jesus, but their epistles throb with allusions to the teachings of Jesus. Peter’s denials of Jesus did not negatively influence what he wrote. On the contrary, Peter’s writings reflect his profound appreciation for God’s grace. The opening words of the first epistle testify to the depth of his contact with Jesus and His teachings. Peter was not present when John the Baptist received his revelation from God at our Lord’s baptism. The Holy Spirit, dove-like, descended on Jesus and the Voice identified Him as the Son of God (John 1:32-34), but accounts probably spread. Further, Peter, James, and John heard the Voice from a cloud on the mountain which identified Jesus as God’s Son (Matt. 17:5).