Thursday, January 23, 2020

Christ the greater…gatherer

Matthew 3:11-12 / Mark 1:7-8 / Luke 3:15-18…

John the Baptist raised expectations about the coming Christ. In fact, he did it so well that people started to wonder if he was the Christ. Like John, we have to be careful to keep the focus on Jesus, and not what He is doing through us.

John said that if they thought he was making clear distinctions between believers, non-believers, and make-believers, they hadn’t seen anything yet. From the context we see that the Christ will truly separate the wheat from the chaff. He will deliver some to glory and some to doom.

You will see the wrath of man any time you even speak of the wrath of God, let alone making it an object of worship and adoration. However, John said this made the Christ a greater one than himself. John could speak of it; Jesus will do it.

John said Christ will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The power of the Holy Spirit is what unites all believers (John 3:5-8 / 1 Corinthians 12:13). But what is a baptism of fire?

Perhaps John is referring to one and the same event, with the fire representing the Messiah bringing the purifying fire of God to His people (Malachi 3:2). It may include the persecution that disciples go through (Mark 10:35-40 / 2 Timothy 3:12 / 1 Peter 4:12). If it is some separate event, it would refer to the fact that Jesus was going to baptize some into judgment; they would receive the unquenchable fire of hell. In any event, this isn’t something to achieve, it is something to be recognized. These events will happen.

The point is this: Jesus the Christ is going to make ultimate distinctions. Jesus will gather you one way or another, into the kingdom of light or into the kingdom of darkness. This is actually good news for those who will hear it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

So what’s next?

Luke 3:10-14…

A person who is different will want to act different. The people knew John the Baptist had been telling the truth, and they repeatedly asked John to tell them how these “fruits of repentance” would be manifest.

John gave specific examples of what a changed, repentant life looks like. He said we become givers and not takers. We become honest and content. If we have received mercy and grace, and if we know the great depths of this, we will in turn become people who pour out mercy and grace to others. Freely we have received, freely we give (Acts 20:35).

Repentant hearts look for repentant starts. Those whose eyes have been opened to the truth, these people will now look for ways to follow the Truth. For them, it isn’t just saying a few words; it is true repentance, a change of life, lifestyle, and a different course of living. The way of eternal life makes a change in the way of our temporal life.

Have you ever asked this question, do you look to the Word of God to show you where you should be different (Ephesians 4:17-32)? Are you looking for a path to follow, or do you just think that saying some prayer to God means He will just make your way His way? It isn’t “answer my prayer and then I will get on the right path”, it must be that we get on the right path, and we will find our prayers answered.

Believing in Jesus means we are following Him; we believe He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and so we go the way He goes. It isn’t just talk, it is a walk. Turning toward God means we are walking a different path. There are lampposts along the way. The Word of God is a lamp to our feet, it shows us what we are walking on, and it is a light to our path, it shows us where we are headed to (Psalm 119:105).

So, what’s next for you?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Isn’t that nice

Matthew 3:7-10 / Luke 3:7-9…

A lot of people think they have this “eternal life” thing all worked out, it’s a done deal. They said a prayer, lived a moral life, and attended all the right rituals, and now they can’t be bothered with matters of the heart. They are spiritually smug, and will turn quite sour if you dare bring up the ongoing fruit of repentance to them.

Most have never felt the condemnation of sin. They may have had a pang of conscience here or there, but they never actually turned their heart toward God after they felt better. Oh, they want Jesus to save them all right, but they sure aren’t going to follow Him while they still have their own life to lead.

John the Baptist didn’t play games with the souls of men. Many were coming to see, confess, and get baptized, but John, seeing the religious leaders, didn’t try to avoid confrontation. No, he went right at the hypocrites. Not those who did bad things and admitted it, but those who didn’t think they needed any mercy and grace.

They assumed that John was speaking only to the rank and file; but John said that the hypocritical religious leaders needed a baptism of repentance as much as anybody. Don’t fool yourselves, he says to them…and to you (Matthew 7:21-23 / Luke 6:45-46).

Many come to see the religious ceremony but lose the significance of it. They act so happy for the person who “turns their life around” not realizing all the while the evidence is mounting against them. Another brand plucked from the fire, manifest before their eyes, yet they burn in their hearts as ever they did. Some might even “get wet” but they never submit to the repentance and faith it embodies (Psalm 51:17).