Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 4. Greater than Giants . The message of John the Baptist (Part 3)

. The message of John the Baptist (Part 3)

THE MESSAGE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST (PART 3)

 

Luke 3:4-8 (ESV) 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” 7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

Introduction.

Well, in last two sermons we looked at three characteristics of true repentance as revealed in the preaching of John, whom I said was Jesus’ favourite preacher.

Now repentance is a topic of critical importance. Paul presents repentance to the Grecians on Mars Hill as a command: Acts 17:30 (ESV) 30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…”

Luke 24:47 (ESV) records that 47“repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Israel needed to understand that they were no better off than the uncircumcised gentiles if they did not repent.

 

So what did we learn so far about John’s message of repentance?

 

We saw first of all that true repentance is an issue of the heart. The heart of the problem is the heart. The low places of the heart need to be brought up, the high places need to be brought down, the crooked needs to be straightened and the rough places need to be smoothed. Basically what John is saying is that true repentance creates a super highway for our King.  Therefore when there is true repentance there is dealing with personal sin.

Secondly we saw that true repentance recognizes the wrath of God. You either accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord or you face the wrath of the Lamb.

Thirdly we saw that true repentance is not a matter of religiosity or rituals. You can be baptized in every baptistery and river in the world to make sure you got the right one, but if there is no fruit that evidences faith and repentance then there is no true repentance. Our aim is not more things that represent a relationship with God. Our aim is our relationship with God and not more things of God.

 

Well there is more and we will only look at one more this morning:

 

4. True repentance is not based on ancestry.

Luke 3:8-9 (ESV) 8 “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

 

True repentance does not trust in ancestry for salvation.

The Jews were basing their hope for the Kingdom on the basis of their genes. They believed that they were the people to whom God had made great unilateral, irrevocable, unconditional, eternal promises of land, of blessing of a Redeemer all due to their relationship to Abraham.

In John 8 they try this same debate with Jesus. They say to Him in verse 39 that Abraham is their Father. Listen to the response of Jesus: “John 8:39-41 (ESV) Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did,40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.”

Jesus says that they are doing the works of their Father. What is their immediate response? No Lord you are confusing bloodlines, we are not born from sexual immorality. Abraham is our Father, not some other guy. According to Jesus they missed it and He is now going to tell them who their father is. Listen what He says: John 8:44 (ESV) “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The thing they needed to realize is this, that being part of physical offspring does not make you part of spiritual offspring. The Kingdom is not a matter of inheritance. So what John was saying to them is that not all Israelites are truly Israel. You think you are going to escape the wrath of God, because your great – great grandfather happens to be Abraham, think again. When I tell people of various denominations today that they are not going to heaven because they are part of that denomination, man their blood boils and remember there is not such a thing as a denominational bloodline. Now you must know just how the blood of these people boiled.

By the way, this is nothing new. Back in the Old Testament God was already telling Israel that they had lost the plot and it was going to lead to their ruin. Ezekiel 18:30 (ESV)  “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.” In Luke 13 Jesus is making a case for healing on the Sabbath. But watch Him rub salt into their wounds. Look how he explains this woman. Luke 13:16 (ESV) “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Here we see a child of Abraham under the bondage of Satan.

Well if that was not enough salt in the wounds, the Lord turns up the level of saltiness a few notches when He says in Luke 13:28 (ESV) “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.” Guess what, your father Abraham is going to make it in the final judgment but you who classify yourselves as children of Abraham are going to miss out.

Remember the story of the rich man who died and went to hell. He is in hell and acknowledges that he is in the bloodline of Abraham. He calls Abraham his Father. One thing that is interesting from that text is this. There comes a day when you will discover that it did not help you a bit to be in the bloodline of Abraham. The rich man’s theology of the value of ancestral spiritual blood changes immediately in hell, because suddenly he realizes that his brothers are as desperate even as children of Abraham as he was.

The only way Israel were real children of Abraham according to Romans 4:13 (ESV) was through the righteousness of faith: “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” If John was preaching to us today his sermon will go something like this. “Don’t even begin to tell me that you were born into a Christian home, don’t even begin to tell me that your great grandfather was CH Spurgeon, don’t even begin to tell me that you were baptized as an infant, bring me a stone and I will show you I can baptize stones as well. If you do not bear fruit, hear me, the axe is already at the root of the tree.

I like John’s straight forward way of preaching: “you vipers, no, no, no, don’t give me the Father Abraham bit, bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” So John does not care who their Father is? Without fruit they are no better than the stones that are not incorporated into the Kingdom. I’m not sure if John had Isaiah 51 in mind at all, but listen to it: Isaiah 51:1-2 (ESV) 1 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him.”

They were cut from a rock to begin with so why can God not turn normal stones into children of Abraham. It is this verse that actually causes some theologians to believe that the stones John are referring to is gentiles standing around and not physical stones. I don’t think we have any evidence in that regard. So what is needed is true repentance with fruit that evidences that true repentance.

Does that settle it? John knew that there were real children of Abraham, but it was those who shared in the faith of Abraham. All you get from Abraham in the flesh is sin, what you get from him in the spiritual realm is nothing, unless you believe in the same God, have repented of your sin and by faith have embraced Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Luke 19:9 (ESV)  “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.” Zacchaeus was not a son of Abraham until he had embraced the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do we still have that problem today? Of course we do. Around the world there are people who are depending on bloodline or denominational birth right as equalling salvation. Go to Germany and you will notice 1% of all those who call themselves Lutheran attending church on a Sunday. They will be baptised as infants in the Lutheran church, they will catechise, and they will be married and buried there, but as far as the faith is concerned they have no interest.  Oh how they need a John the Baptist rising up in their midst.  And his message will be, ‘don’t even begin to tell me you are a Lutheran – bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”

You see the same in Britain under the Anglican Church, whose supreme governor is the queen of England. Their measures or rules are passed by the House of Parliament by an ecclesiastical committee.  England has a population of 53 million of which 26 million are baptised members of the Anglican Church. Now just think if you had 50% of your society bearing fruit in keeping with repentance and the faith what can happen in that nation.  Just take the royalty, they all get married in the Anglican church with all pomp and ceremony, but over the years, and I have a good many behind me now, I have never heard one of the royalty standing up, and claiming a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ outside the realm of tradition and calling the nation of England back to the Bible. Just think if the above statistics were spiritually true, you would in a city of 1 million people have buildings to accommodate 500 000 on a Sunday or 10 large stadiums in one city just to accommodate the Anglican faithful on a Sunday. Oh how they need a John the Baptist rising up in their midst.  And his message will be, ‘don’t even begin to tell me you are an Anglican – bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”

And in our own country we have the same problem. Some people are depending on their bloodline, others are depending on their denominations, for someone like Desmond Tutu we are all a rainbow nation and all children of God. In our Afrikaans schools, children are reminded again and again by pastors of the three sister churches that they are children of God and that they are children of Abraham. I experienced it twice this week. My daughter Shannon had her grand price giving on Thursday night after 12 years at school, and there was a minister who was telling all the children that they are all children of God and that they on the basis of Ephesians 5 just simply have to grab the opportunities before them and reach for the stars. I believe if John the Baptist was the speaker he would have taken the same Ephesians 5 and told them to no longer have anything to do with the deeds of darkness for the fruit of the Light is what they need to focus on as it is in keeping with repentance, then only can you make most of every opportunity. To preach a section of text out of context becomes pretext. The Bible is not a book for motivational speeches.  On Friday morning she had her final gathering after 12 years in school and again a minister from one of the sister churches treated the whole school as Christians, as children of Abraham and reminded them from Philippians 4:13 that they all have a great future ahead of them when they go to varsity and into the career worlds as they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. If he at least challenged them to make sure that they are in Christ I could have stomached it. Philippians 4:13 again is not meant to be a motivational speech of the kind. Here Paul thanks the Macedonian believers for taking care of his needs, but then reminds them that whether they take care of his needs or not, he is okay as he does all things through the Lord who strengthens him.

I thank God that in most of our schools the Bible is still open, and that the word of God can be preached. It is such a privilege to have these opportunities. However, to tell children that they are all Christians is to inoculate them against the faith, as they think they are already in it.  Oh how we need some gospel preaching in our Schools.

The sad thing about the theology propagated in South Africa today is that many unsaved people believe they are saved based on their ancestry. Now John the Baptist is saying to the Jews, and he is saying to the Lutherans and to the Anglicans, and to Afrikaners, and English, and Phedi’s, and Zulus and Baptists, and Methodists and those of the sister churches or charismatic churches, ‘don’t even go there’, don’t even begin to say to yourself that you are a child of Abraham. Don’t think that you can dissect your DNA that you are going to discover a spiritual gene that links you to Abraham, a physical one maybe, but a spiritual one, no.

I believe that if he was living today, he will point you straight to John 1:12-13 (ESV) “ But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

The only thing you get from your parents is what I like to call covenantal privilege. It is a privilege to grow up in a Christian home, a privilege to hear the Word of God, a privilege to see God’s people in action, the Jews had this same kind of privilege as children of Abraham, but it did not save them. They were inside the Kingdom of Israel which was supposed to be under God’s rule but outside the Kingdom of God under God’s rule. There is a big difference between the two. To become part of the Kingdom is to receive Christ and in so doing to become a child of God.

So children of Abraham, flee from the wrath to come, but don’t run back to your ancestry, run forward to the King of Glory, the Son of God, who died on the cross for you as a substitute for your sins because it is only in Him that you can have life.

So, true repentance requires that we renounce family ancestry.  True repenters realise that it's a personal matter between them and God.

 

 

Amen!

Logos Community Church:- 21 October 2012