Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Have you ever realized what kind of message John the Baptist preached? If you read the biblical account of how John preached and what he said, I doubt many churches nowadays would welcome him to fill the pulpit — much less be their pastor!

The very first words we have of him comes in Matt 3:2 where he calls all the people who come to hi in the wilderness of Judea to "repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near" (μετανοεῖτε· ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν). Not only was he a little funny looking (Matt 3:4) but he was a prophet of the Lord. He was called to prepare the way for the Lord (Matt 3:3).

Meanwhile, "many" of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to him and he initiates conversation with them and says the following:

1. You men are a "brood of vipers" (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν)
2. Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath (φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς)?
3. Bear fruit worthy of repentance (ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς μετανοίας)!
4. Do not think to say to yourselves: "we have Abraham as our father." (That is, they would pride themselves and find comfort knowing they are reconciled to God simply because they are Jews.)
5. The axe is already laid at the root of the tree & every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται).
7. The one who comes after me will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
8. The winnowing fork is in His hand and He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the storehouse but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire (συνάξει τὸν σῖτον αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην, τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ)!

NOTE: in John the Baptist's message of proclamation in preparation for the Messiah, a number of key elements are found:

1. The call to repent!

2. The acknowledgement that there is only One Savior & Deliverer — Jesus, the Coming One.

3. There is such a thing as "coming wrath" — and it's harsh and just!

4. It does no good to try and come to God on your own terms (social identity, religious identity, morality, etc.).

5. The evidence of true salvation is "bearing good fruit." And if NO good fruit is borne, then that person is thrown into the unquenchable fire.

6. The hope for true believers, however, is that those who do bear "good fruit" evidencing that true regeneration and change has taken place are surely to receive the blessing of being gathered into the storehouse of the Lord — eternal bliss & blessing.

This is the gospel. I wonder how many of these elements are absent in much preaching in our culture? Let's be faithful to proclaim the truth as we learn from John the Baptist.


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