Matt 5:17                               The Law and the Prophets                                  9/16/2012     

·        Think Not That I Am Come to Destroy the Law or the Prophets (Matt 5:17-18, Rom 5:9-10, Col 3:3, John 14:19)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       What Is the Law and the Prophets?  (Matt 5:17, Jos 4:8-9, Rom 6:14, Col 2:14, Rom 10:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        The Righteousness of God (Matt 5:17-18, Rev 21:8, Matt 12:36)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.    The Law Is Not Dead, but We Have Died to the Law (Rom 7:1-4, 5:13, 3:31, 4:8,15, Gal 3:21)

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 5:17 (2X). You may have noticed that in the past few months I have been firmly moving away from the law as the sole authority in our lives, because the law brings a curse. This is not a minor issue. This is a major doctrine, which is a relic from the Romish church. But the Reformation taught the people that the Romish church is an accursed idolatry. Today I want to clarify this, because the Lord Jesus said in Matt 5:17-18,

·        Think Not That I Am Come to Destroy the Law or the Prophets (Matt 5:17-18, Rom 5:9-10, Col 3:3, John 14:19)

Matt 5:17-18, “17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” How then is it possible that the law is no longer our master if the Lord Jesus said that the law still stands? Paraphrased the Lord Jesus is saying, “Watch out now, before you remove the law out of its place, I came to fulfill the law, and thus our doctrines should not contradict one another, but they should harmonize.” You should not remove the law carelessly, for I came to fulfill the law. And so, seek to understand the law and seek to understand what it is that I came to fulfill. What did the Lord Jesus come to fulfill? Well, the Old Testament contains hundreds of prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ, and concerning His work of paying for our sins on the cross. All these prophecies the Lord Jesus came to fulfill. In addition there were many prophecies of Christ in types and figures in the ceremonial law, for the ceremonial law was specifically set up to give the children of Israel prophecies concerning the Messiah, and concerning His atonement for sins, and concerning His followers and their future destiny. All these types and figures also had to be fulfilled, and they were fulfilled at the time of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. That is why Jesus said, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill”. And by His atonement all the sins of all His elect, chosen by grace, have been paid in full. Let us not minimize His atonement. Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God the Son. And since God the Son is fully God, anything He does is perfect and complete. You cannot say that in addition to His atonement Christ had to do something else that was necessary to erase our sins. You cannot say that Christ in addition had to live a perfect life in the period before the cross in order to substitute that life for our life. That is not true! And so, I am reversing a statement that I made in August of 2007, where I stated that Christ also came to fulfill the remainder of the law to substitute His life for all those whom He came to save, and this fulfillment He did by his perfect life in the period before the cross and by His life after His resurrection. That is not true. Unfortunately the church has misinterpreted two verses and has held that misinterpretation for many centuries. Those two verses are Rom 5:10 and Col 3:3. Let us see what those two verses say. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 5:9 (2X). This verse is in the middle of a passage which speaks about our peace with God through the death of the Lord Jesus, and our continued peace with God by the intercession of the Lord Jesus for us during our entire lifetime. We read in Rom 5:9-10,

Rom 5:9-10, “9  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” What is the Lord saying in this passage? He says that we were justified, made free from sin, by the death of Christ. And since this is a pledge that He will keep, we shall indeed be saved because He did not remain dead, but He is now alive. And when we read verse 10 it is simply a repetition and enlargement of what we found in verse 9. While we were enemies we were reconciled to God, we were brought at peace with God. But we were enemies of God. There were obstacles on both sides. The obstacles on the part of God were these: Maintaining the honor of His law; showing His hatred of sin; upholding His justice and righteousness, and maintaining His truth at the same time that He pardons. The obstacles on the part of man were these: Removing his unwillingness to be reconciled; by subduing, and changing, and sanctifying his heart; by overcoming his hatred of God and of His law; and by bringing him into submission to the government of God. As you can see, there is nothing that man can do to to remove obstacles such as these. No one else than Christ can remove the obstacles on our part. Then the Greek text says, “Much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” What does that mean? We were reconciled to God by His death. The death of Christ had the appearance of great feebleness. The death of Christ had the appearance of the defeat of His plans. His enemies triumphed and rejoiced over Him when He was on the cross and in the tomb. But if in this state of being humble, and despised, and dying, and dead, He had power to accomplish so great a work as to reconcile us to God, how much more may we expect that He will be able to keep us, now that He is a living, and exalted, and triumphant Redeemer. This is why the Lord Jesus said in John 14:19, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” And so, we see that Rom 5:10 does not at all teach that the perfect life of Christ before the cross will be a substitute for our life. The same can be said for Col 3:3 which says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” It means that our future life, our eternal life, is hidden with Christ, is preserved with Christ in God. There it is safely kept, for there it is out of the reach of our enemies so that we cannot lose it. “For I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day“, (2Tim 1:12). Let us now return to the topic of our sermon, “The Law and the Prophets”, and let us first ask: What did the Lord say?

#1.       What Is the Law and the Prophets?  (Matt 5:17, Jos 4:8-9, Rom 6:14, Col 2:14, Rom 10:4)

Matt 5:17-18, “17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” The law and the prophets is a term which refers to the entire Old Testament. The Lord Jesus came to fulfill all that was said about Him in the entire Old Testament. But how long does it take for Christ to fulfill the entire Old Testament? Verse 18 says that it will take Him “till heaven and earth pass.” And so, the question is: Does the law still stand?

What was it that Christ came to do? He came primarily to do two things: To preach the Gospel, and to suffer and die on a cross. And He did all that in a span of 3 and ½ years. But after those 3 and ½ years He continues to control the preaching of His Gospel by His Holy Spirit. Christ continues to fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies even “unto this day.” Wherever we read in the Old Testament these words “unto this day” it means that the spiritual meaning of that event is continuing its fulfillment “unto this day.” This expression appears at least 88 times in the Bible. It means that Christ is still fulfilling these words until all is fulfilled, which will be till heaven and earth pass. For example, please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Joshua, Jos 4:8 (2X). We have here the event that the children of Israel crossed the Jordan, and the Lord caused the waters of Jordan to cease flowing, so that the children of Israel walked on dry ground. This was a stupendous miracle, as great a miracle as when God dried up the water of the Red Sea and caused the children of Israel to cross over on dry ground. The Lord commanded Joshua to take twelve stones out of the Jordan and place them for a memorial in the land of Canaan. The spiritual meaning of this action was to take those whom He elected unto salvation out of this world that is under the curse of God, and place them into the Promised Land, which represents the Kingdom of God on this earth. Then the Lord commanded Joshua to make to stand up another twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, and they are there “unto this day.” The spiritual meaning of this action was to leave those whom God has not elected in this world that is under the curse of God, a world that is under His wrath, a world that is spiritually called hell. The Jordan River spiritually means hell. His elect people went with Christ and in Christ through hell and came out the other end. But who was in control of all this? Who had His providential hand in choosing twelve stones to be saved out of Jordan and another twelve stones to be left in Jordan? It was Christ who worked this all out unto salvation, and it is Christ who still works to keep the other twelve stones in Jordan “unto this day.” Here is one example of Christ fulfilling the Law and the Prophets, and He is continuing His providential power “unto this day.”

And so, does the law still stand? Is that puzzling to some of us? Doesn’t the Bible say in Rom 6:14 that we are not under the Law? God says in Rom 6:14, “For ye are not under the law, but under grace”. Don’t we find in the Bible that the Law has been nailed to the Cross? God says in Col 2:14, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross”. And God says in Rom 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth”. And there are many other verses I could bring up. Don’t all these verses say that Christ fulfilled the Law in our place, and abolished the Law completely and that He introduced grace in the place of it? Well, if that is what we conclude out of Col 2 and other verses, then we have a problem with Matt 5:17, because Jesus clearly says that He did not come to do away the Law. In fact, then we have a contradiction. But what is the solution to this contradiction?

·        The Righteousness of God (Matt 5:17-18, Rev 21:8, Matt 12:36)

First let us again hear what the Lord Jesus had to say in Matt 5:17-18,

Matt 5:17-18, “17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Why could the Lord Jesus not destroy the law or the Prophets? Why did He have to live in obedience to the law and the prophets? Did He have to do that for us, or did He have to do that for Himself? Well, He is already serving us when He suffered and died on behalf of our sins. But now, in His lifetime He is serving Himself. The Lord Jesus is the sinless perfect Redeemer, He is the spotless and sinless Lamb of God, and any sin however small will disqualify Him from being our Redeemer. That is why He came to live a life in perfect obedience to the law. He was an Old Testament Jew and all the Old Testament Jews were commanded to obey the law perfectly. He did not fulfill the law in our place, but He fulfilled the law for His own sake, for He had to remain the perfect spotless Lamb of God.

The law tells us that the wages of sin is death. But what is the death that God has in view? God does not tell us that physical death is the penalty for sin. If physical death was the wages for sin then Adolph Hitler is not going to hell for the crimes he has perpetrated on mankind. If physical death is the wages of sin then nobody will receive any penalty for their crimes, for they simply die and that will be the complete penalty for their sin. God does not require a double payment for the sins of mankind. And so, you can see that physical death cannot be the penalty for sin. When God says, “The wages of sin is death,” the death that God has in view is not physical death, but it is the second death. What is the second death? The second death is defined in Rev 21:8, and there we read,

Rev 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” The first death is simply the warning sign that God will judge the sins of mankind. Our God is a righteous judge who will not pass by any sins. The first death is the stepping stone to the judgment of the great Day of the Lord. Can you see that the righteousness of God is at stake here? The righteousness of God demands that every sin must be paid, for the Lord Jesus said in Matt 12:36, “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment.” Every sin, even as small as an idle word, shall be accounted for in the Day of Judgment. Every sin that the elect of God have committed was paid by Christ on the cross. Every sin that has not been paid by Christ on the cross still has to be paid by the sinner with an eternity in the lake of fire. And what did the Lord Jesus Christ have to pay on the cross? The sufferings of Christ must be equivalent to the payment that we would have to pay, if we would have to pay for our own sins. God is a righteous Judge. Nothing but the equivalent of our payment, the equivalent of an eternity in hell, would satisfy the righteousness of God. And so, the law is not dead. All the unsaved shall spend eternity in the lake of fire.

#2.    The Law Is Not Dead, but We Have Died to the Law (Rom 7:1-4, 5:13, 3:31, 4:8,15, Gal 3:21)

Now, that is a whole different ballgame. Have we indeed died to the law? We have to derive that. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 7:1 (2X). When the Lord Jesus said that “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” He indicated that the Law still stands. But the Bible also teaches us that we, who are the remnant chosen by grace, were in Christ from before the foundation of the world, and we were crucified with Christ, and we died with Christ, and we are raised with Christ when He rose from the tomb. Notice, we died with Christ. We read in:

Rom 7:1-4, “1   Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2  For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4  Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

What do we learn from this passage? We learn that every person who comes into this world is born married to the Law. And thus the Law points an accusing finger at anyone who commits sin. But when we are in Christ, we have died with Christ. And this benefit comes to us the moment we are born from above. In other words, like verse 4 says, we have died to the Law through the body of Christ. We are no longer subject to the Law. For us it is as if the Law is as good as dead. Please turn one page to your left, to Rom 5:13 (2X). And now we can make sense out of this verse where we read in Rom 5:13, “But sin is not imputed when there is no law”. You see, after the moment that we have become born from above, all our sins are wiped away, and no more new sins are accumulated, “for sin is not imputed when there is no law”. Please turn again one page to your left, to Rom 3:31 (2X). Shall we now live as if there is no more Law of God? Absolutely not, for we read in Rom 3:31,

Rom 3:31  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

You see, we establish the Law. We now understand how we can please God, by reading and studying the law which was formerly our enemy. Now we understand why God wrote in Rom 4:8,

Rom 4:8, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

The man who is in Christ has died to the law when Christ died, and thus no more sins shall be imputed to him even though he remains a sinner. We who are God’s elect were in Christ from before the foundation of the world, and when Christ died we also died with Him. God says this means that we died to the law. Rom 7:4 says, “ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” If we have become dead to the law, then the law cannot accuse us of sin. Therefore God says, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” God calls this person a saint, for God sees no sin in His chosen people. And then God says in Rom 4:15, “Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” The law worketh the wrath of God. This is a principle which not many people know. The law requires perfection. But we are an imperfect people. And thus the many who seek to become saved by obeying the law, instead of earning the favor of God they inherit the wrath of God. Those who seek to become saved by obeying the command: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, are violating the instruction from the Lord in Gal 3:21 which says,

Gal 3:21, “For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” In other words, salvation would have been ordained by the obedience of a law. But a person’s righteousness does not depend on a law, but on God’s grace. Salvation is entirely by grace, so that even the faith that we receive is entirely a gift of grace.

Most people do not understand that the Arminian free-will gospel is just another way of trying to get into heaven by obeying a law. It cannot be done. Just like in the days of Paul they tried to get into heaven by obeying the law of circumcision. It cannot be done. The great evil of our days is that people try very hard to please God by following a works gospel. It cannot be done.

Let me now summarize all of what I have said today: We read in Matt 5:17-18,

Matt 5:17-18, “17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” The Lord Jesus came to fulfill not our life, but His life, for He as the perfect sinless Lamb of God must live a life that is absolutely free from sin, and therefore He had to obey the law in all its perfection. Thank God that the incarnation occurred in total perfection, free from every sin, even free from original sin. Thank God that He sent this perfect Lamb of God into our world, to atone for the sins of many. Thank God that He did not pass me by and that He poured His grace upon me.

AMEN.      Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.