Audio Book Version:
As far as Gods people were concerned,
It had always been about “the Kingdom” – God’s rule here on earth. About God’s people living in and living out the fulfilled promise of the one and only true God.
This reality hinged upon the promises of God being fulfilled in a man, a king, a ruler that would be the deliverer of Israel – Gods people – a son and descendant of the son of David from the tribe of Judah. This would be the King of the Jews! The king of the people known as the praisers of God – for that is what Judah means: “to praise.”
The Jews were in fact to be the praisers and worshipers of God, and that is what the Messiah, the Christ, the Promised King would do, He would unite the people of God as worshipers of God and rulers with Him forever.
That is the promise, and what good is a promise unless it is fulfilled?
That promise and its fulfillment is what the entire bible is about.
Will God be true to His promise?
Will he fulfill His covenant with man?
And to us, the question is asked:
Will we accept His King? …even if it comes in the form of a
helpless baby? … born of an unwed mother?… in a barn, atop
a pile of hay, surrounded by animals?
Its easy to like the promise, but will we accept its fulfillment?
The Gift of a savior came… but it took some time.
Like most major changes throughout history, the gift of a savior king for Israel would not come without major opposition.
People fear change… it makes us feel uncomfortable.
It threatens our norm and moves us unwillingly a lot of times from our comfort zone.
The birth of a savior had been rumored as wise men had followed a star from the east to Bethlehem where they believed that THE Messiah had been born.
Upon this discovery Herod, the King and ruler of Palestine, fearful that he would lose his power and maybe even his throne, decided to take his fate into his own hands and he acted in a most desperate and wicked way.
He ordered that all male children in Bethlehem under the age of two were to be murdered. (Jer 31:15)
Joseph, as we know had been forwarded in a dream and had fled to Egypt to keep his son Jesus safe.
Imagine, a father, protecting (or saving) his son, who would later become his Savior.
Like Herod, people who would protect their own power over their own lives – their own will and comforts, have always had and always will have a hard time accepting their own need for a Savior.
To acknowledge God, is to acknowledge that you are not superior in the universe.
If God exists, than He by default is more powerful than us, and
if He is more powerful than us than He rules over us, and if
He is Ruler, than He must have rules and If He has rules, than
one day we must be accountable to them.
And for most, that is simply unacceptable.
To acknowledge God as ruler and king of our lives would require us to accept His ways and change ours.
It would require us to acknowledge our state of needing Him and His rescue if we were to find out that we were indeed not perfect like Him.
If a holy God demanded that were unacceptable and unworthy of His kingdom in our imperfect and sinful, dirty state of being, than we would NEED a rescuer, an offering of forgiveness… a ransom.
Herod could not accept a ruler over his life, threatening his kingdom, and so he refused to bow the knee and violently resisted the will of God and took matters into his own fleshly hands.
But the will of God can not be thwarted.
God would fulfill His promises to usher in His Kingdom with the promised Messiah seated on the throne.
Truly, the clay is in the Hands of the Potter, and the Potter will have His way with His purposed vessels.
Truly, the Kingdom of God was at hand and there was nothing man could do to stop it.
The Messiah and Savior and King had been born and He was being raised as one like us – only without sin or imperfection.
The Kingdom of God was upon us all and God had sent a messenger to prepare the way….
He was not a normal man…
normal meant 9-5, vanity, well-groomed,
respected, a home owner, a car payment,
SHOES for goodness sake!
But not our messenger.
John was anything but normal.
He was a believer.
He was a disciple of God and a forerunner of the messiah.
He was truly willing to look a fool for the sake of setting the stage for the one who could save his own soul and the souls of those who would repent and believe.
It is in fact those who are weak and humble and willing to follow God, who prepare the way for others to meet their maker and Savior. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians about their calling
“26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Cor 1:26-31
God would use a man, clothed in camels fur and belted with cow skin and who lived in the dusty wilderness, eating grass hoppers and honey.
Not a great looking celebrity or CEO or viral sensation.
Not a rich man or an impressive man, but a CALLED man.
A man whom God had selected. A Humble man. A man willing to do the will of God. A man willing to forsake worldly comforts to afford others the comforts of an eternity with God.
A man willing to speak the truth even if it cost him everything.
A man willing to be laughed at and insulted and questioned and beheaded.
John was not a man chasing riches or popularity. He was chasing God. Longing to follow Him and do His will. To make Him know, even if it cost Him everything.
Herod had feared that the messiah would live to conquer his throne, but it was Gods desire to conquer the hearts of men.
His victory was to overthrow the sin and rebellion that man had become accursed with. His Gift to us in His coming was the gift of repentance and the fruit of salvation.
Changed hearts, leading to a changed mind that could finally worship God without needing the continuing sacrifice of an animal, but worshipers who could continually come before God forgiven by the blood of their savior and sin-conquering King.
The Kingdom of God was upon us. God’s promise was being fulfilled and John The Baptizer was preparing the way!
It was the beginning of the Good News, coming in the flesh:
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
John’s Message like a Truth Sword cuts through our armored skin and penetrates our souls.
His preaching and message was the truth from God, highlighting the chasm that sin had laid before us and the Father, that could only be bridged by the sacrifice of the son. Our sin kept us from the Kingdom of God and it was only through the Son could that bridge be repaired.
Sin was the injury. Repentance was the healing balm.
of our advent series we talked about our fall into the cursed life because of Sin and our desire for it. Joel highlighted our need for a Savior because of our being cut off from the righteousness that is needed to live in fellowship with a Holy God. That is what holiness is and what it does – it is cut off from fault and error and sin. You cannot live righteously and wrongly at the same time. In order for God to be right (holy), He must keep those who are wrong out of His Kingdom.
But God’s purposes were not to keep us from Him forever, not even sin could separate us from the Love of God.
Randy emphasized the Prophesies concerning the coming of our savior. God not only planned our salvation, but He verbally predicted it for us in written form before it would even take place. He told us that He would save His people, and He saved and is saving His people through the promised Messiah – the Christ – The Savior of Gods people, just as He had promised. Jesus Christ.
Ryan reminded us that God’s ways are not our ways. Christ did not arrive with flashing light and a parade. He was born of humble means and circumstance. There was no room for Him in the inn. He was a baby. Helpless, needy, dependent upon His mothers milk and needing a blanket to keep warm. This was how God showed up in the flesh. Just as God had planned, sovereignly. The conqueror of Sin, born as a baby.
Josh shed light on the reality that the light of the world has shone in our hearts and he highlighted the emphasis in scripture that the people of God would be the bride of Christ. That Jesus as light of the world would shine in our hearts and give us life. That God has promised salvation and He has delivered on that promise.
What will you do with that promise?
Will you believe?
Will you Repent?
Belief itself is not without it’s evidence. Just as the proof is in the pudding, the evidence is in the fruit.
Salvation as a gift is to be received and the gift received leaves itself evidences.
The first being a repentant life.
Repentance is a deep inner change of the mind, heart and
That doesn’t happen without showing its evidence.
You can know who God is and be an unbeliever – an unrepentant person or being.
Example: The Devil.
A Person who has heard the truth and received (i.e. believed) the truth has experienced a miracle.
This is in fact, known as regeneration.
The gift of God to us, in removing the blinders from our eyes and the snares from our feet so that we can believe and see Him in His glory and grace and be recipients of the Gift of God – Salvation.
This Salvation is all of God alone.
Speaking of God’s Servants, Paul says to Timothy(2) (2:25-26) that
25 He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
When I pray for my unbelieving friends and family members, I pray that God, in His great kindness and mercy would grant them repentance as a gift of His great grace.
What was Johns message in the wilderness?
It was that the Light was coming into the world and that it was now time to confess our deeds and repent, that we might receive new life.
His message was direct, and bold and to the point:
To the religious, he rebuked, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear Fruit in keeping with repentance… Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And to all:
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3
The change God seeks is the change of the heart and mind. He takes evil men and replaces their calloused hearts with fleshy hearts. He takes a perverted mind and purifies its thoughts. He takes and old filthy garment and replaces it with a new clean and spotless one. He takes our unworthy sacrifices and becomes the pure spotless lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
This was the coming Kingdom that John preached about. The Kingdom of God and Christ who would forgive the repentant sinner and make His kingdom in their hearts.
But the Kingdom came to those who would believe and receive?
It is both.
Many knew Jesus, but did not receive Him for who He divinely Is. They know Him, heard him, ate with him and saw his miracles, and yet they did not receive the gift of God, but instead rejected it. Even the demons believe, says the scriptures. Repentance was not a fruit of their lives but rather a hardness of heard. Rocky hearts do not grow on trees, fruit does. Those who are connected to the vine bear fruit and that fruit resembles Christ. Those who’s stony and prideful hearts keep them christ are not attached to the vine but remain on the ground, only observers but not partakers of the fruit. Though they may gather close to the branches, they are not part of the tree.
This is why it is so important for us to speak the truth as John did. He was a witness to the truth, faithfully preaching a baptism unto repentance, why? So That many would believe and receive the gift of God in Christ – Salvation.
Who do we call to repentance? Who do we ask to believe? Who do we pray for, that repentance might be granted?
We preach to all, we pray for all, and we love all.
“for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Who is the “whoever”?
We don’t know…. And so we preach the good news to whoever we can, and we pray that GOD, who is rich in Mercy, would grant the same repentance to those hearers that he has granted to us, even though we were sinners.
Consider John 1-3 with an emphasis on the word receive.
If God’s good news of how He has loved you, and sent His Son Jesus to die for you has reached your ears and pierced your heart and has created the feeling of remorse for your sins for maybe the first time, than can I rejoice with you, that a miracle has taken place. That is a Gift from God for you.
Receive this Gift gladly. Accept this reality that God has allowed you to repent and turn from your sins and not only believe Him but to obey Him.
This is the fruit of a life reborn – regenerated and made to come alive for the first time.
Its not Just about believing, it’s about being born again of God alone.
John said toward the end of John chapter three, that
“He (speaking of Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease…whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true…whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life…”
John’s Gospel is the only gospel that does not mention John the Baptist’s death and his beheading at the hands of Herod. . .
It’s as if John the Baptist simply fades out of the picture just as he would have wished.
John simply described himself as a Voice. The voice of one crying out in the wilderness.
We all have a voice.
What will your voice give witness to?
John proclaimed the coming of his Savior and told people to believe and receive Gods Gifts of Grace: Repentance unto Salvation.
I cannot imagine a better way to be a voice, than to proclaim the Salvation that has come to us by God in Christ Jesus or Lord.