Somethings never change: I just came across the Latin phrase “non est inuentus” beside a name of a Brother Williams in the Wapping church roll from the 17th century. It is common to see the words “withdrawn from” or “deceased” in the margin, but this Latin phrase got my attention. It means “He has not been found.” We still have a lot of those today! Who says history can’t be fun?
On a bit more pleasant note than the Christmas 1677 meeting, the Wapping Church took up a special collection for London pastor Benjamin Keach on December 25, 1679 in response to his recently having been robbed.
December 25th 1679 The Congregation in old Gravell Lane Did then Raise and give to Bro. Benj. Keach when he was Robed the Sum of Three pound five shillings
The church ultimately gave 3 pounds and eight shillings to Keach. On December 30th 1679, it was recorded in the minute book that: “Bro. Collings gave to Bro. Keach the Sum of three pound Eight Shillings which was gathered for him of the Church.”
In the January 2012 issue of The Gospel Witness, I had an article published on how the 17th century Baptists used the Reformation’s Regulative Principle of Worship to argue for believer’s baptism by immersion. The kind folks at The Gospel Witness have graciously granted me permission to post a PDF of my article here. The title of my article is “The Plain Testimony of Scripture”: How the Early English Baptists Employed the Regulative Principle to Argue for Believer’s Baptism.
For more information about The Gospel Witness, including subscription details see here.
To download my article, click here.
While working through the Wapping Church minute book, I discovered this festive account from 1677. The church had voted to withdraw fellowship from Okey in June of the year. Apparently that was not okay with Okey. Okey had responded by praying for God to kill the pastor, Hercules Collins. The church took the following further action on Christmas Day 1677.
At the Church Meeting in ole Gravell Lane the 25th of December 1677 was John Okey Cut off and Excommunicated from all the priviledges of the gospel for the sin of lying and Revilling and for Refusing to hear the Church: together with his Invocating the God of Heaven to cut off and destroy Bro: Collings and saying also that he would be Revenged.
This post was cross-posted on my Hercules Collins website.
What is the meaning of Jesus’ baptism? In Matthew 3:13-17, Matthew’s point is to show the anointing of Jesus as the Messianic King. To understand what this text is all about we have to remember the anointing of David as king in 1 Samuel 16:13 (who received the Holy Spirit as his anointing as king) and the prophecies which follow the reign of David of a descendent of David who will rule forever.
The Old Testament ends with a sense of expectancy, unfulfilled longing for this Davidic King upon whom the Spirit of the Lord will rest and who will be called the Son of God (1 Chron. 17:11-14). In Matthew 3:13-17, those expectations are met when at the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit descends upon Him and God’s voice from Heaven declares Him to be His Son! What does this mean? It means that Jesus has been established in His house and kingdom forever! His throne has been established forever!
He is the Child who was born, the Son who was given! The government is upon His shoulders! His name is called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace! The increase of His government and peace will never end! (Isaiah 9:6)
And He sits upon the throne of David and over His kingdom! He orders and establishes it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever! (Isaiah 9:7) He is the One who comforts God’s people by ending her warfare and pardoning her iniquity! He is the King whose way was prepared in the desert by John the Baptist! (Isaiah 40:1-5)
He is the Servant whom the Father upholds and the Elect One in whom His soul delights! He is the One upon whom the Father has put His Spirit, who brings justice to the Gentiles and whose purposes will not fail! (Isaiah 42:1-4)
This is the Jewish Messiah who brings light to the Gentiles, opens blind eyes and releases the prisoners from prison.(Isaiah 42:6-7) This is King Jesus! And he now sits enthroned at His Father’s right hand, waiting for his enemies to be made his footstool! (1 Cor. 15:25) And He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who is coming again! (Revelation 19:16) He is Jesus and this is the meaning of His baptism.
*Please excuse all the exclamation marks, this came from my sermon notes!!!
In light of this coming Wednesday’s scheduled discussion (1/25/12) between evangelical leaders and the modalist T. D. Jakes, it is important once again to assert what the Bible teaches on the nature of the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity.
Although it is not the main point of Matthew 3:13-17 to teach it (The text is about Jesus’ being anointed by the Spirit for His Messianic work.), the existence of three distinct persons of the Trinity is evident in verses 16 and 17.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Here we see the three distinct persons present in whose name the disciples are instructed to baptize in Matthew 28:19. The Son of God is coming up out of the water, the Spirit of God is descending from heaven like a dove, and the Father’s voice is heard from heaven.
This text rules out any form of the heresy of modalism which says that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are only three different manifestations or modes of God’s activity rather than distinct persons. But the Bible teaches there is one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three persons are co-existent, co-equal, and co-eternal. They have distinct roles which they perform, but all three exist simultaneously and all three are fully God. This text alone prevents the heresy of modalism as being a viable option for Bible believing Christians.
For more information, see this helpful post on the definition of modalism and whether T. D. Jakes is a modalist.
I write this, in the words of the apostle Paul, “not as though I had already attained,” but as a fellow pilgrim who struggles with time management and productivity issues. After all, here I am on WordPress when I’m supposed to be working on my dissertation! Nevertheless, as one who is seeking to be more efficient and effective, I offer the following:
- Make a list of all your responsibilities (study time, visiting, administrative work, writing, family, etc.)
- Schedule every hour of your week so that each of your responsibilities have the appropriate amount of time dedicated to them. I made this template (PDF) that I use when I need to make adjustments to my schedule (Whenever responsibilities change, your schedule must be adjusted accordingly.). Be sure to schedule in time off and family time (This transcript of a discussion with John Piper has some helpful ideas on how much time to schedule off.).
- Create accountability with your schedule. Share your schedule with other trusted colleagues and friends who can hold you accountable to stay on your schedule. It is easy for a lazy man to hide in pastoral ministry. Don’t be that man!
- Eat the frog! In his book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, author Brian Tracy recounts how Mark Twain once told people to swallow a live frog the first thing each morning. That way they could be assured that they probably wouldn’t have to do anything worse the rest of the day. The point: take your hardest, most dreaded task at the top of the list each morning and get it done! Don’t spend time staring at the frog, that only makes it harder to swallow it. Tracy’s book is a great kick in the seat of the pants to motivate productivity. Highly recommended.
Of course you will have to deal with the distractions of email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and the internet in general. This is difficult because a lot of what you may need to do may require use of the internet. If you don’t need your computer or internet for what you are doing. Shut them down until you are finished. If you do need them, find a way to be accountable. Services which track internet usage might be useful here. Having friends to regularly look at your internet log might help you to stay more focused on your tasks during the day. Remember that getting your work done during the allotted time will allow more time for leisure and for your family in your off-time. But if you have to take work home, both the quantity and quality of your family time will suffer. Let this motivate you day by day!
In Matthew 3:1, Matthew uses the Greek word “preaching” to describe John the Baptist’s ministry. This word literally means “to proclaim as a herald.” By choosing to use 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!”
Who is this man who appears in the middle of nowhere preaching baptizing and gathering such large crowds? In Luke 1 we read of his unusual birth and more details are given about his ministry. In Matthew 3, Matthew only announces John the Baptist’s appearance as an adult of approximately 30 years old. However, Matthew does provide a few clues about who exactly this mysterious and eccentric individual is.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:1-6
First, he is identified by a prophecy.
Matthew declares that John is the one who is prophesied of in Isaiah 40:3:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’ ” verse 3
Here we see John fulfilling his role as a herald for King Jesus. His voice is crying out announcing the coming of the King and he is calling for the roads to be prepared for the King’s coming. But the roads which John has in mind are not literal roads, but the hearts of men. This is his call for repentance which we’ll examine later. For now, we see the identity of John the Baptist as the promised messenger who would prepare the way for the Messiah.
Second, John is identified by his attire. Notice the unusual clothing which John is described as wearing: “camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist” (verse 4). Was John unsuccessfully trying to start a new fad? Was this merely a fashion statement? No, but his clothes did make a statement. They identified John as the Elijah who the Old Testament anticipates would come before “the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Malachi 4:5). In 2 Kings 1:8 Elijah is identified by his hairy appearance and leather belt. The prophecy of the coming of Elijah as a sign of the end times in Malachi 4 had created an urgent anticipation for the appearance of Elijah. Now, finally, after 400 years without a prophet, there appears in the wilderness of Judea who looks and sounds like the prophet Elijah! No wonder the crowds went to him in droves! It was not mere curiosity that motivated the crowds, but Messianic expectancy!
Third, John is identified by his location. There is significance in the fact that John is “in the wilderness.” This would bring to mind the words of Hosea 2:14ff of a day of restoration that will come when Israel is allured to the wilderness where God will “speak comfort to her.”
So with the appearance of John the Baptist, Isaiah’s prophecy of a forerunner to the Messiah, Malachi’s prophecy of the coming of Elijah and Hosea’s prophecy of a coming restoration for the nation of Israel are being fulfilled.
- Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell. This was the first book on preaching which I ever read and it is my favorite. Urges the preacher to preach each sermon in the context of the whole Bible which is Christ-centered.
- The Preacher’s Portrait by John Stott. Great book for the preacher. Stott examines several words used for the “preacher” in the New Testament. An excellent and edifying study.
- Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Graeme Goldsworthy. Another great book on interpreting and preaching Scripture in light of the progressive revelation of Christ.
- Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Must read. The good doctor was very opinionated and that makes for good reading. He is at his best discussing the romance of preaching.
- Lectures to My Students by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Another must read. One of my favorite books that I refer to again and again. The lecture on “Sermons – Their Matter” is excellent. “The Blind Eye and Deaf Ear” and “The Minister’s Fainting Fits” are other excellent treatments. This is also a book that will make you laugh out loud because of Spurgeon’s humorous way of expressing himself.
- Power in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines & Jim Shaddix. This is a great book that deals with every aspect of preaching from the preparation of the preacher to the preparation of the sermon. It also deals with the delivery of sermons. An excellent one-stop guide to preaching.
- An Earnest Ministry by John Angell James. This older work (I’m not sure that it is still in print.), as the title suggests, emphasizes “earnestness” in ministry. James is talking about what we might call passion. This work was helpful to me in seeing the difference between communicating passion and manipulating emotions. The former is essential, the latter is evil.
- George Whitefield (2 volume) by Arnold Dallimore. Any preacher will be thrilled, encouraged and challenged by this biography. It is hard to put down, so beware!
- Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers by Lewis Drummond. One of the first biographies which I ever read and one of my favorites. It is a long one (896 pages), but an excellent read. Highly recommended.
- The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper. This quote alone is worth the price of the book. But buy the book, there is much more where that came from!
- The Temple Repair’d by Hercules Collins. This one is not readily available (except in library archives in London). But I have produced a critical edition which I plan to publish in the near future. It contains great exegetical and homiletical advice from a 17th century Particular Baptist. Some excerpts from this work were published in my Devoted to the Service of the Temple: Piety, Persecution, and Ministry in the Writings of Hercules Collins.