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

. The Message of John the Baptist (Part 4)

THE MESSAGE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST (PART 4)


Luke 3:8-17 (ESV) "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. 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.” And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”"

We continue where we left of last week where John says that you cannot trust in your ancestry for salvation, as true repentance does not trust in our ancestry. Today we see our last two on this theme.

5. True repentance reveals a changed life.

This point cuts close to the bone of what we saw last time. John was telling the Jews to bear fruit keeping with repentance instead of just saying that they are children of Abraham. Today I want to get to something critical in the statement of John to all of us. Look again at his statement in verse 8. He says: “do not begin to say”.

There is a new sad reality though today when we get on to this topic. I believe something else John might say today is something like this: “do not even begin to say that you are a child of God, but bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” I was going to show you a video clip just so that you can hear for yourself, but decided not to, so just believe me, or go watch on You Tube. But there is a movement in America called “Jesus loves porn stars”. Now we are not talking about ‘Jesus loves porn stars’ like we talk about ‘Jesus loves a sinner’. No there is a new movement where they remain in the industry and continue in their ways as supposed children of God. They do not claim that they are children of Abraham, and therefore Christian, they are simply children of God but continue without fruit that keeps in line with their repentance.  I am sure that John would say to them, “do not begin to say………” Just think, tomorrow we start all kinds of new movements like: drunkards for Jesus, child molesters for Jesus, rapists for Jesus, druggies for Jesus, money launderers for Jesus, wife beaters for Jesus and so the list goes on.

The real issue in Christianity is that it is not what you say that is the issue, but the fruit that you bear. In Matthew 7:15 we are warned against the false prophets and Christ tells us that we shall know them by their fruit.

Look at Christ’s opinion on the issue. (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Look at those words, ‘not everyone who says to me’, and then later in verse 22 “on that day many will say to me”. God is not fooled by ‘sayers’, John was not fooled by ‘sayers‘, what God is interested in is ‘doers’. This fits in so well with the text before us that continues in verse 9 of Luke 3: “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.”

If there is no evidence of true life you are going to end up in hell even if you begin to say that you are a child of God. This is not dealing with Israel as a whole but individually with every tree that does not bear fruit. You see, God is into doers not sayers. Where there is true conversion there is always evidence. This truth you see all over Scripture. There is not such a thing as a ‘no fruit Christian’.

Now, just a reminder that the fruit he is talking about here is not the fruit of the Spirit as we see in Galatians 5. The package here might include that but the specific focus is on things like righteous conduct, attitudes and actions.  There has to be evidence of a transformed life otherwise there is no life at all. Somehow in all of what John is saying the people seem to understand that the Kingdom is not about ‘sayers’ but about ‘doers’. It does not matter what they claim, the question is, are their lives transformed?

Look at their response: 10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” We see the same response to preaching in Acts 2:37 on the day of Pentecost: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter’s reply is clear: “repent and be a Baptist, right?” No repent and be baptized. You see how close Peter and John get together. John was dealing with the Israelites but Peter is dealing with the beginning of the church age.

Now in John’s audience as with us today there are people of all walks of life. You can imagine our porn stars standing before John and you can imagine his answer to them. These people now have their sin cut to the bone and they realize that neither their religious rituals or Abraham will be able to save them, so what shall they do? 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

I wonder how many of us would have given this kind of answer to people. Our answers often go like this, simply because we do not want to offend; “well you need to pray a sinner’s prayer, and then you need to start reading your Bible and pray every day, and then you need to attend church and testify and you are okay.” Man these guys had rituals that were coming out of their ears. Every person no matter who they are or what their position is in society must be brought to a point where they have no options but to flee from wrath – in desperation they need to cry: ‘what shall I do?’

Look how practical John is in his answers. To the crowds he says in verse 11: “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tunics were undergarments worn over the body. Now John does here exactly what Jesus did in His preaching. Jesus constantly challenged men regarding their love for God and their love for their neighbour. John 13:34-35 (ESV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Not just John, but Jesus Himself was very practical. For example He challenges the lawyer in the story of the Good Samaritan. You want to prove to me that you are in the Kingdom, how do you treat your neighbour. This is not new by the way. A simple study of Isaiah 58 will show you that this was always God’s concern. We don’t have time to turn there, but go and read Isaiah 58 and you will notice that it is all a long way of saying: “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Church family, I want us to hear the heart of God. You are going to see a person’s transformation; you are going to see a person’s conversion in the simplest expressions of life on a routinely level. Being under God is practical. Look at Micah 6:8 (ESV) 8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Leviticus 19:18 (ESV) 18 “you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.”

We don’t have time to go into the other two examples. But hear the voice of John as he cries out in the dessert, give one tunic, give food, tax-collectors, insurance salesmen, businessmen, don’t take what is not yours, all of you render unto Caesar what is due to Caesar. Soldiers, policemen, security personnel, traffic officers don’t take anything from anyone because you have power in your hands, don’t accept bribes but treat people fairly according to the law, be happy with what you are paid.

Politicians, stop being corrupt and serve the people freely, the nation does not exist for your welfare, but you exist for theirs. And so John has a word for each one of us, no matter what walk of life you are in. You can break it down to the finest detail of life. Golfer don’t cheat on your score, remember that shot that went into the trees, oh you do, now tell your score card about it, because if there has been true repentance there will be fruit.

All of this is not salvation by works but it fits with Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) 10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

All of us should be shouting out today, “and what shall we do”, and I dare say, you know what to do. You know that there are areas in your life that is not showing forth the fruit of repentance. Oh I can hear husbands saying: what shall we do, and John responding with the words of Paul: “love your wives as you love your own bodies.” And we hear wives saying, ‘what shall we do’, and John responding with Paul; ‘submit to your husbands out of reverence for Christ.’  And   I can hear children saying: “what shall we do” and John again saying with Paul: “obey your parents” and so the list goes on. Employees might be saying what shall we do and the message is clear that they must respect their employers, obey their employers, to stop stealing anything from pencils, to personal phone calls without permission, to work time, but that they will work hard and earn their wages by the sweat of their forehead. Hey you whites and blacks, stop being racist, there is one race in Jesus Christ. And so there is a message for their employers as well as for everyone in society.

If you are truly repentant it is going to show in the way you deal with people and you deal with life in general. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

6. True repentance leads to faith in the Messiah.

Luke 3:15-17 (ESV) 15 “As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

I don’t have time to unpack this in detail, and we will see more of this in the last sermon in this series, but we cannot ignore this critical factor without which there is no true repentance. We have no message without this. You can see yourself and your sins, you can understand the wrath of God, you can turn away from all rituals, you can deny any spiritual value in all your ancestry and you can show forth all the fruit in the world that represents new life but if you have not run to the Messiah you have nothing.

John’s preaching is of such a standard that they think that John might be the Messiah. But John is clear that if they are truly going to repent they must look away from him and look to Christ.  Now remember they were all filled with expectation for the coming of the Messiah, but John says I am not He. John is basically saying: “now if you think that my message of the wrath of God is tough, He who is coming is the one who will execute the wrath”. Now John did not understand that the Messiah will come again to execute the wrath. By the way the baptism with fire has got nothing to do with Pentecost as some say. What came down on Pentecost was not fire; it was like tongues of fire.  This has to do with the final judgment.

Christ is presented to them as the Messiah and as the judge. You either receive Him as Saviour or you will face Him as judge. God loves you but if you reject His Son you will face the wrath of the lamb. Look at the glory of the Saviour. John according to Christ is the greatest man ever born of woman and here the greatest man ever born of woman is not even worthy to untie the straps of His sandals.

What a statement about Christ. Do we realize that if we do not embrace Christ there is no salvation? Do we realize that no man can do for you what Christ can do? The one coming after John is not just mightier than John but mightier than all. John says that Jesus is so far beyond him that he is not even worthy to take on the lowest slave duty which is to wash filthy feet. Christ is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. This is a profound statement as they will immediately think back to Ezekiel 36:25-26 (ESV) 25 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Do you realize that all people will be baptized by Jesus Christ? You will either be baptized by Him with the Holy Spirit or you will be baptized with fire. Verse 17 by the way defines the fire of verse 16. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” John says that you will either be ‘barned’ or you will be ‘burnt’. So, no matter what kind of repentance a person makes, there will be no salvation unless there is trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. So that's the capstone on John's preaching.  He preaches repentance, repentance, repentance, but he then turns them toward Messiah.

So John preached repentance, Jesus preached repentance, the apostles preached repentance and we need to proclaim it to the whole world, keeping this in mind that the angels rejoice in heaven when one sinner repents. Acts 5:31 (ESV)  “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins”

 

Amen!

Logos Community Church:- 28 October 2012