Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Repentance and Baptism
Accompanying Matt Chandler sermon: Superficiality
Accompanying John MacArthur sermons: True Repentance: God's Highway to the Heart Part 1 and Part 2
John's purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. The people were so ready for a Messiah, for a king to rescue them from Roman domination.
MacArthur: He did talk about the Kingdom, but he also talked about repentance. He did talk about the King, but he also talked about the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world because before they could ever have the Kingdom and the fulfillment of Abrahamic and Davidic promise, they had to come through New Covenant salvation by way of repentance and faith in the Savior and the Redeemer, the Messiah.
BTW - MacArthur has an absolutely fantastic sermon describing the coming kingdom of God - I highly recommend that you listen to it if you have time. Here's a quick little blurb from it....
Where is history going? History is moving toward this great climactic end, when the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised King, the Son of God comes to earth to establish His Kingdom and to bring back paradise that was lost in the Fall. History does not end in a confusion, it does not end in a puff of smoke. It does not end sort of wandering and meandering into oblivion. It does not end in a holocaust generated by man. It doesn't end any other way than the way God says it will end, and that is when the King Himself comes and establishes His glorious Kingdom on the earth and according to Revelation 20, it will last for a thousand years. And when it is over, the universe as we know it will disintegrate, it will be uncreated and God will instantaneously create in its place the new heaven and the new earth which will last forever. This is the flow of human history.
Anyway, it's a really great sermon - bookmark it and listen when you have time.
But on to today's passage. Actually it leads straight into today's passage. John preached to the Jews that if they wanted to receive the Kingdom as a nation, it starts with individual repentance.
John wasn't exactly a "seeker sensitive" preacher, was he? "You brood of vipers!" He gave it to you straight. He preached the gospel - repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. You have to be direct. You really do. The Bible is clear that many many people responded to John's preaching and were baptized. But then, after Jesus died, there were only 120 believers gathered in that upper room. We can really only conclude then that for most of the people, it was just superficial. And if it was superficial even after direct preaching, what kind of response can we expect today with the watered down, culturally accepted "gospel" that is often preached today?!
Sometimes we phrase things in a way that takes salvation off of Christ and onto ourselves. For example - sometime we say that we need to accept Christ, or we need to make a decision for Christ. Really? He's not standing there hat in hand, just hoping we'll pick Him. What we need to do is recognize our wretchedness, recognize His holiness, and throw ourselves on His mercy and grace and beg Him to accept us! Not the other way around. Now, God promises that He will forgive all who are truly repentant - He will never reject us when we come to Him in repentance, genuinely desiring forgiveness. But there needs to be repentance.
Repentance isn't a comfortable word. Repentance is also a misunderstood word.
Many people think that if they say sorry, they've repented and it's all good. Wrong.
You can say anything you want. But talk is cheap.
What repentance really is......
The first step is to become convicted of your personal sin. You're not going to confess or repent of anything you aren't convicted of is wrong. So, first you need to be convicted of sin.
The next step is to see how God views sin, and to recognize the reality (and the rightness!) of divine wrath.
You also have to reject religious ritual as a means to salvation. Baptism doesn't save you. Works don't save you.
You have to realize that your ancestry doesn't save you either. Being a Jew didn't make you automatically saved. For us, having Christian parents doesn't make us automatically saved. There are no spiritual grandchildren in the kingdom. It's sons and daughters only. You cannot inherit salvation from your ancestors - the only thing you've inherited is your sin nature.
You need to confess your sin - bring it out in the open.
And you need to repent of your sin.
Here's a few things repentance is NOT.
It's not merely confession. You know, where you say you did it and it was wrong but you just doing it again and again. You say you're sorry, but you're obviously not, because you just keep on doing it.
It's not religious repentance where you're actually repenting for everybody else's sin - thanking God that at least you're not like that.
It's not worldly sorrow, where you genuinely feel bad, you maybe even admit your wrongdoing - but you don't change.
It's not deal-making repentance where you say sorry in some misguided effort to manipulate God into blessing you.
It's not general repentance where you just acknowledge that yeah, you make mistakes just like everybody else because no one's perfect. No, repentance is specific.
It doesn't make excuses or try to justify the sin.
It does involve restitution - trying to make amends.
True repentance acknowledges your own personal and specific sin without justification, it involves remorse over that sin and it involves the desire to change, but realizes that change is impossible from a purely human perspective, and recognizes the need for God to extend mercy and forgiveness, and empower you to change. God does the work.
And if this repentance is genuine, if this repentance is real - it will be evident in your life. There will be fruit.
When God is doing the work, when God the Father is drawing and when God is doing the work of conversion, transformation, new birth, regeneration, the repentance is going to show up in changed life. So true repenters reveal spiritual transformation.....
It's not enough for you to scramble down here and get through the water and think that your Abrahamic ancestry and your ritual and your remorse about your sin is enough, there has to be indication of a hatred of sin and a love of righteousness that shows up in a changed behavior, which indicates regeneration. And if it's not there, if the fruits not there, the ax is going to be struck at the root of the tree. This is not collective Israel because it says "every tree that doesn't bear good fruit," it's talking about individuals here, any sinner and every sinner is in view. And if there's not the right fruit, that sinner is going to be destroyed, if there's not the evidence of spiritual transformation, regeneration.
Our deeds are not the way we earn our salvation. Our deeds are the evidence of our salvation - proof that we have been saved through grace. And that's what those examples are at the end of our passage. Honesty, integrity, love, fairness, contentment - all evidence of a life changed by grace.
To what does your life give evidence?
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 3:15-17