I’m currently teaching the book of Jeremiah at the Sweetwater Baptist Association‘s Seminary Extension program on Thursday nights. We’ve been having a great time together studying God’s Word. This is a great bunch of guys who care enough about studying God’s Word to devote a Thursday night each week out of their busy schedules to that end. I’m thankful to God for them.
The following excerpt is from Hercules Collins, The Temple Repair’d: or, An Essay to Revive the Long-Neglected Ordinances, of Exercising the Spiritual Gift of Prophecy for the Edification of the Churches; and of Ordaining Ministers Duly Qualified (London: 1702), 22-23. This selection is due to be published along with approximately 40 others in July in a volume on the piety of Hercules Collins by Reformation Heritage Books.
1. We should study to be good workmen, because our work is of the highest nature. Men that work among jewels and precious stones, ought to be very knowing of their business. A minister’s work is a great work, a holy work, a heavenly work. Hence the apostle saith, “Who is sufficient for these things?” O how great work is this! What man, what angel is sufficient to preach the gospel as they ought to preach it! You work for the highest end, the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls. You are the beating down of the kingdom of the Devil, and enlarging and exalting Christ’s kingdom. And “he that winneth souls” (saith Solomon) “is wise.” That is, he that draweth them to God, and to the love of him, sweetly gaineth and maketh a holy conquest of them to Jehovah.
2. We should study to be good workmen, because you will be the better able to give a good account to your master, an account “with joy and not with grief,” having been faithful watchmen over your flocks. Paul boldly declares it, that he was clear from the blood of all men, and had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God; and it is his counsel to the elders at Ephesus, To take heed to themselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers. And in so doing there may be expected an approving of God, and a “Well done good and faithful servant,” enter into the joy of thy Lord, that is, into everlasting happiness.
 2 Corinthians 2:16
 Proverbs 11:30
 Diodate. A reference to Giovanni Diodati (1576-1649). Diodati was the successor of Theodore Beza (Calvin’s successor) as both professor of theology and pastor in
Geneva. His Annotationes in Biblia (1607) was translated into English in 1643 as Pious and Learned Annotations upon the Holy Bible. A new edition (the fourth in English) of this work was published in 1684 in
London and is the most probable source used by Collins. The sentence above is almost an exact quote from Diodati’s annotation on Proverbs 11:30 in his massive commentary on the entire Bible.
 Hebrews 13:17
 Acts 20:27-28
 Matthew 25:23
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:1-2
John was a preacher of repentance from sin. The first word attributed to John by Matthew is the word “Repent!” This is the Greek word metanoeite and means “to change one’s mind”. Biblical repentance is not merely being sorry for sin, but turning away from that sin. Children in Sunday School were once asked to define repentance and a little boy defined it simply as “being sorry for sin,” but a little girl corrected him by adding, “It means being sorry enough to quit.” This was the primary message of John the Baptist and what his baptism represented. He was calling upon the Jews of his day to turn from their sin in preparation for the coming of the King. He was calling them to prepare their hearts as the grand highway upon which the King of glory could come.
Repentance is still the message of the Christian preacher. The very next chapter records the beginning of Jesus’ preaching ministry by saying:
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17
The apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38,
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 17, Paul preached repentance. He concluded his address to the philosophers in Athens with these words:
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. Acts 17:30-31
Repentance has been the content of the preaching of preachers throughout church history. All the men mentioned in yesterday’s post preached repentance. The Puritans of the 17th century especially understood repentance. One of them, William Perkins, defined repentance as follows:
Godly sorrow causeth grief for sin, because it is sin. It makes any man in whom it is to be of this disposition and mind, that if there were no conscience to accuse, no devil to terrify, no Judge to arraign and condemn, no hell to torment, yet he would be humbled and brought on his knees for his sins, because he hath offended a loving, merciful, and longsuffering God (Cited in John F. MacArthur, Jr., Matthew 1-7, 67).
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:1-2
The word translated preaching in Matthew 3:1 is the word kerusson and means “to proclaim as a herald.” By choosing this word to describe the preaching of John, Matthew is emphasizing John’s role as a herald for the King. As a herald, one’s authority comes from the content of the message and not from the messenger himself. He was not composing his own messages, but simply declaring the message of the King. This continues to be the role of Christian preachers. Namely, to declare the Word of God and not one’s own opinion. The best preaching, in fact the only preaching, is that which faithfully explains what God has already spoken.
In John’s example we can also see the primacy of preaching. Throughout the history of the church, preaching has been the primary way of communicating God’s truth to God’s people. In Matthew, John came preaching, Jesus came preaching, the disciples were sent preaching. In the book of Acts, Peter and Paul both preach. In church history, Augustine was a preacher, Chrysostom was a preacher, John Calvin and Martin Luther were above all else preachers, Charles Spurgeon was a preacher, D.L. Moody was a preacher, W.A. Criswell and Adrian Rogers were preachers, John MacArthur and John Piper are preachers! Whatever else the world may need, no need is greater than for God-called preachers to declare the same message as John the Baptist:“The King has come!”
Should New Testament Christians offer the sacrifices of the Old Testament? Should New Testament Christians observe the sixth day as the Sabbath with all of its regulations? Should we only eat foods which are considered kosher according to Jewish dietary laws? Should we murder, steal, commit adultery, lie, and covet? Why did you answer the way you did? The way that you answered that last question describes the way you view the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.
One of the great questions which the student of the Bible must answer is one regarding the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. There are two basic ways of answering that question. One way is to say that all of the Old Testament is carried over relatively unchanged and is applicable to the New Testament believer as much as it was to the Old Testament saint. This approach emphasizes continuity between the two testaments. The other basic way of answering this question is to state that with the person and work of Jesus, the requirements of the Old Testament have been done away with. This approach emphasizes discontinuity between the two testaments. Which one is correct? I don’t think either one is completely correct. There is another option, which I think it spelled out by Jesus in this morning’s text. What is it? You’ll have to wait and see as we look into Matthew 5:17-20. Here the question of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments is answered and we’ll end up by seeing the righteousness that is required today by Jesus.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20
What is the relationship between the Old and New Testaments?
In verses 17 and 18, Jesus is answering a possible objection to his teaching which follows in verses 21-48. There Jesus strengthens, explains, refines and removes certain aspects of the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament. In verses 17 and 18, Jesus is explaining in advance his actions. He is not destroying “the Law or the Prophets,” but fulfilling them.
The term “the Law or the Prophets” clearly refers to the two main divisions by the Hebrews of the Old Testament. Throughout the New Testament, you see the Old Testament referred to by this two-fold division as a title: “the Law and the Prophets” (see Matthew 7:12, 22:40; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; and Romans 3:21). The significance to our understanding of this is to realize that Jesus is here succinctly explaining his relationship to the Old Testament. He does so in terms of explaining his purpose in coming. First by negation: “I did not come to destroy,” then by assertion: “but to fulfill.”
The Old Testament, then, is not destroyed or abolished by Jesus, but rather is fulfilled by Jesus. But what does Jesus mean by fulfill? This is where the debate lies. Some interpret “fulfill” in contrast to “destroy.” If Jesus did not come to destroy the Old Testament, then he must have come to preserve it unchanged. Those who hold this view usually truncate “the Law or the Prophets” to just “the Law” and further still to only the Ten Commandments. But Jesus is making a distinction between destroying and fulfilling, not implying that they are polar opposites. I agree with Craig Blomberg who has written, “He is not contradicting the law, but neither is he preserving it unchanged.” Clearly some elements of the law have been changed, for example., the dietary laws (Mark 7:19 and Acts 10-11), the temple, priesthood, and the entire sacrificial system (Hebrews 7-9). In the section which immediately follows this one (verses 21-48), Jesus revises and revokes specific commands of the Old Testament. Clearly Jesus does not preserve the Old Testament completely unaltered by Him.
What then does Jesus mean by “fulfill”? The word here in Matthew 5:17 and 18 means the same as it has already earlier in Matthew. In the first four chapters Matthew has used the word to refer to how Jesus has fulfilled both the predictions and pictations (my word) of Jesus in the Old Testament. Jesus clearly fulfills the specific prophecies about him, but He is also the fulfillment of the types and shadows of the Old Testament. In addition, Jesus fulfills the commands of the Old Testament by providing His own authoritative interpretation. Some of these commands He strengthens by calling on inward, as well as outward conformity (see 5:21-22 and 27-28). Some of these commands He changes by His divine and kingly authority (see 5:33-34, 38-39, and 43-44). He has the authority to summarize and interpret the Law as in Matthew 7:12 and 22:36-40.
There are two basic ways of interpreting and applying the commands of the Old Testament. The first is to say that none of the commands of the OT apply unless directly and explicitly reaffirmed in the NT. The other is to say that all of the commands of the OT apply unless explicitly revoked in the NT. What I’m saying today is that neither of these views are exactly right. Instead, it is better to say that all of the commands remain relevant and applicable to the New Testament believer, but only as they have been interpreted and explained by Christ. By the way, this interpretation and explanation of the Old Testament is not restricted to the red letters in the gospels. Since Jesus promised to give His Spirit to His disciples in order to lead them into all truth (see John 14:26 and 16:13-14), the writings of the apostles are the authoritative teaching of Christ by His Spirit through His apostles.
By stating that He fulfills the Law and the Prophets, Jesus is here affirming what Scripture elsewhere declares, that the entirety of the Old Testament can only be understood properly in light of the person and work of Jesus Christ. When Phillip found Nathanael in John 1:45, he said, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in John 5:39 by saying, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” After His resurrection, in Luke 24:44, Jesus reminded the two disciples with whom He had walked with on the road to Emmaus, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” In Romans 3:21-22 Paul speaks of the product of Christ’s sacrificial death as, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.”
How much of the Old Testament will be fulfilled?
The Old Testament will be fulfilled down to the “jot” and “tittle.” The “jot” refers to the yod (the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet). The “tittle” refers to a small appendage used to distinguish two similar letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Compare daled to resh. The point is that every minute detail of the Old Testament will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ!
Obedience is not optional under Christ
Lest any should misunderstand Jesus and think that obedience to God is optional for the New Covenant believer, Jesus clarifies this in verse 19. Obedience is not optional. There are consequences for both disobedience (negative) and obedience (positive). “These commandments” refers to the commandments of the law and the prophets, i.e., the Old Testament, but as interpreted and applied by Jesus (see verses 21-48).
Righteousness is required
In verse 20, Jesus states that righteousness is still required in the New Testament. Instead of lowering the standard, Jesus raises it. The scribes and Pharisees represent the paragons of Jewish morality. To the Jew, if anyone was righteous, these men were. They spent their days copying, reciting, memorizing Scripture. They could tell you how many words and letters were in each book of the Old Testament. They made it their duty to keep all 613 of the commandments which they had catalogued from the Old Testament. But Jesus says that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, one’s righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. This is morally impossible for fallen human creatures!
This statement is similar to what Jesus told His disciples after encountering the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-26. After the young man went away, Jesus commented on how hard it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom. It is easier, said Jesus, for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle. The disciples were incredulous. “Who then can be saved?”, they asked. Jesus answers confirms their hopeless suspicions: “With men it is impossible.” But thankfully He didn’t stop there. He went on to say, “But not with God, for with God all things are possible.” Thus, the only hope for sinners like you and me is a miraculous intervention by God!
Our righteousness must exceed the scribes’ and Pharisees’ because God requires a heart righteousness (see1 Samuel 6:7, Luke 16:15, and Mark 7:6). The difference is illustrated in verses 21-28 where Jesus calls for more than mere outward conformity to the law. He calls for an inward conformity as well. We do not possess this righteousness on our own. We’re like those described in Isaiah 64:6, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” We need what Joshua the High Priest in Zechariah 3:1-5 needed: to exchange our filthy garments for clean ones. This is what Christ has done for us. “For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). As Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf stated, “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress, in flaming worlds with these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head.”
The bad news is that King Jesus requires a righteousness that we don’t possess, but the good news (i.e., gospel) is that the King provides and produces the righteousness which He requires! (See Romans 3:20-26). This is true both positionally and practically. When we believe we are declare righteous in the sight of God (justification), but the God who justifies also sends His Spirit to indwell us to progressively conform us to practical righteousness in our lives (sanctification). According to Jeremiah 31:31-34, God writes His law upon the hearts of those who are part of His New Covenant community. Likewise in Ezekiel 36:26-27, God is said to give a new heart and His Spirit to those who are His people. Thus, the righteousness which the King requires is fulfilled in His people. Amen.
Lest any one thing that I’m no phun, the phollowing photos are submitted as proof that I know how to have a good time. We spent one afternoon of our recent trip to Phlorida at New Smyrna Beach.
The following selection is from Hercules Collins, The Temple Repair’d: or, An Essay to Revive the Long-Neglected Ordinances, of Exercising the Spiritual Gift of Prophecy for the Edification of the Churches; and of Ordaining Ministers Duly Qualified (London: 1702), 25-26.
To what I have said I shall add some further helps by way of direction and instruction to those that are inclined to the ministration of the gospel. Consider my whole method in speaking, 1. To the Penman of the Epistle. 2. To the Time when written. 3. The Occasion. 4. The Scope. Not that there will be always need upon every subject to take notice of these things, yet upon some subjects there may be need to take notice of some or all of them. Secondly, consider how your text coheres and depends upon what goes before it, but stand no longer upon it than what may make your way plain to the text. Some have spent so much time upon a context, that by that time they came to their text the hour was almost gone, though they did not know whether they should preach in the same place again. Thirdly, make an exact division of your text, if your text calls you to it, for that will be profitable in the helping of you to matter. Fourthly, explain any difficult terms, but spend not time needlessly in explanation, if things are easily understood without it. Fifthly, raise as many doctrines as the text will allow, and make what good use you can of every one of them, but insist most on the chief scope of the place. Sixthly, your doctrine being laid down, prove it from the Word of God by two or three Scriptures at most; because in the mouth of two or three witnesses every truth is established. After you have proved it, then lay down the reasons and arguments of the point why and wherefore it is so. … Some persons lay down some propositions just after their doctrine. But whatever is done in that, may be done in an use of instruction. But that is at your liberty, whether you will do it in propositions, or an use of instruction. And then, what use you make, let it be always natural from the doctrine, and draw as many inferences from it as it will bear; for they are generally very divine things. Mark one thing, that all doctrines will not afford the same uses. There is, (1.) The Use of Information. (2.) Caution. (3.) Trial and Examination. (4.) Refutation. (5.) Instruction. (6.) Reprehension. (7.) Exhortation, with its motives and directions. (8.) Admiration. (9.) Consolation. Now you must consider which of all these, or any other uses, will be most naturally handled from your doctrine.
 i.e., the main subject treated
 See Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; and, 2 Corinthians 13:1
The title of the paper is “Use or Influence? Calvin and the Cappadocians.” The paper explores whether the Genevan Reformer John Calvin was influenced in substantial ways by any of the 4th Century Cappadocian Fathers (particularly Basil of Caesarea or Gregory of Nazianzus). All scholars recognize that Calvin used (polemically) the Cappadocians. My paper explores whether Calvin may have been also influenced by Gregory of Nazianzus’ on his doctrine of the Trinity or Basil of Caesarea on his duplex cognitia (two-fold knowledge of God and ourselves). Important Calvin scholars have argued on both sides of these issues and I have finally settled the debate! :) Note:
Note:The bibliography of the paper will provide a list of resources for those who would like to study further on either Calvin, the Cappadocians, or the relationship between them.
Wilberforce emphasized teaching about Christianity but not imposing it, and wrote that Christians should “boldly assert the cause of Christ in an age when so many who bear the name of Christian are ashamed of Him. Let them be active, useful, and generous toward others. Let them show moderation and self-denial themselves. Let them be ashamed of idleness. ….” “Humble Courage” WORLD, February 10, 2007, 44.
Wilberforce realized that as a Christian, he had a responsibility to the world, and the world is a better place because of it! Wilberforce is just one of thousands of examples that could be given of Christians throughout the centuries who built hospitals, established schools, and fought social injustice. We too have a responsibility to a dark and decaying world. It is a responsibility of preservation and proclamation.
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
I. The Christian’s Responsibility of Preservation, v. 13.
First, Jesus declares his disciples to be “the salt of the earth.” By using this term to describe his followers, Jesus implied their distinction from the world. Salt is always in contrast to what it is placed on. We are to be in the world, but not of it. Our role is to be that of salt in the ancient world. The main function of salt in the ancient world was of preservation. In a world without refrigeration, this was very important. In order to preserve meat salt was rubbed on it. This prevented the decay that would have necessarily come without the salt’s influence.
The phrase “if the salt loses its flavor” is a translation of a phrase that literally says “if the salt becomes foolish”. The Gk. word moranthe has the idea of “failing to be what it should be.” Most translators relate this to salt losing its taste, but it can simply refer to salt losing its intrinsic properties.
This is an impossibility! Salt doesn’t lose its chemical properties, either of taste or preservation. Salt is a very stable ionic compound called Sodium Chloride (NaCl) made up of one Sodium atom and one Chlorine atom. Some have argued that what Jesus is referring to here is salt becoming diluted by being mixed with other impurities. But I think Jesus’ point here is that salt cannot lose its properties (see the next verse on a city on a hill that “cannot be hid”). Salt is salt! Hypothetically, if salt were to lose its properties, it would be “good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”
If I’m right in my interpretation of verse 13, then Jesus is telling Christians that since they are salt, they need to be who they are. An unsalty Christian is a useless thing indeed!
Jesus is telling us here that our presence in the world as Christians is to preserve the decaying of the world. By calling us “the salt of the earth,” Jesus is implying that the earth is rotting and in need of preservation. Sadly many Christians have become unsalty and refused to be what they are called to be. One of the reasons that God has left us here on earth is to have a positive influence upon the world. We are to be a means of God’s grace that keeps the world from being as bad as it could be were we not here. Paul in Colossians 4:6 says that our speech should be seasoned with salt in order to minister grace to our hearers. Here Jesus is saying that we are the salt which ministers his grace to the earth.
We’ll talk more about how we can do this in a few moments.
II. The Christian’s Responsibility of Proclamation, vv. 14-16.
Next Jesus declares his followers to be “the light of the world.” Again Jesus’ use of this term indicates that his followers are to be distinct from the world. Nothing is so distinct as light and darkness. We are to shine as lights in a dark world. The Bible tells us that God is light (1 John 1:5) and that Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12 and 9:5), but here Jesus’ followers are said to be the light of the world. This is possible because Jesus has sent His Spirit to shine through us. Consider the following verses:
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.
Philippians 2:14-16 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
We are the light of the world! We must therefore “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness,” “walk as children of light,” and “shine as lights in the world.”
Jesus illustrates our calling by stating that “a city set on a hill cannot be hid.” In the ancient world, in the daytime as one traveled he could see a distant city on a hill whose stone walls reflected the light of the sun. At night, the same cities would be visible from a distance by the burning lamps in the homes which shone light out their windows. A city on a hill could not be hid and neither can a genuine Christian!
But Jesus brings this section to a close with a final illustration. Unlike salt which cannot lose its saltiness and a city on a hill that cannot be hidden, a lamp can be hid. But it is utterly foolish to do so. Here Jesus drives his message home. Don’t hide who you are. Don’t fail to be salt and light in the world. Lamps would be place on a lampstand (a strategically placed shelf high enough to provide light for the room). The word translated “basket” (NKJV and ESV) or “bushel” (KJV) refers to a measure of grain of about eight quarts. This was a common utensil in a first century home. Jesus says you wouldn’t take that basket and place it over your lamp. It is unthinkable for a Christian to not be salt and light in the world. It is a dereliction of duty.
Jesus’ conclusion to this section is a fitting one: “Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Implications and Applications:
Implication #1: Distinction from the world
Implication #2: Involvement in the world
Our eschatology sometimes prevents us from being involved in our world. I believe the Bible clearly teaches and observation shows that things are not getting better and better, but worse and worse. However, we should not use these convictions to cause us to neglect our equally clear duty to be salt and light in the world.
We have unique opportunities in the United States that most Christians throughout the centuries have not had. We have the opportunity to be directly involved in governing ourselves. Everyone of us (18 and older) has a vote. We also have the opportunity to
- Be involved in community life.
- Volunteer as a servant at a local ministry.
- Coach a Little League team.
- Start a business and run it with integrity.
- Run for political office
In short, stop complaining about the sad state of the world and get involved!
The ultimate goal: “glorify your Father in Heaven”! Do what you do in such a way that God receives the glory. How? When someone asks why you serve tell them about the gospel! Don’t take credit! Don’t be useless! Don’t be “good for nothing.” Be good for something: the glory of God!
May we realize that we as Christians have been entrusted with a responsibility to the world in which we’ve been placed. William Wilberforce once stated:
The national difficulties we face result from the decline of religion and morality among us. I must confess equally boldly that my own solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend, not so much on her navies and armies . . . as on the persuasion that she still contains many who love and obey the Gospel of Christ. I believe that their prayers may yet prevail.
Quoted in “Humble Courage” WORLD, February 10, 2007, 44
May all God’s people say “Amen!”