The Book of Luke, John the Baptist, Part V Ė Lesson 27
Luke 3:7,8, Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance,
Last time we met we discussed this passage where John the Baptizer rebuked those who were coming for baptism without bringing forth fruits that would indicate that true repentance had taken place.
John was a preacher of Godís word and as such he lived according to Godís word and therefore he was not interested in gaining a following to himself but was only interested that men and women follow God.
And he knew that God would only receive a truly repentant heart.
He knew that God leaves to us the work of the outward.
We are very good at concentrating our efforts at that but we are totally deficient in the work of the inward.
Paul wrote in Romans 7:18, For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:
And John knew, that we as sinners, are only capable of working on the outward but that God must do the work on the inward.
He knew that God works on the heart and knowing this John was not interested in gaining men unto himself.
He was not interested in propping up the outward.
Contrary to what many religious leaders of today are interested in, John was not interested in providing crutches to the crippled.
John was interested in getting to the heart of the matter.
John knew the admonition of Proverbs 4:23 which says, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
The heart is the source of what takes place on the outward.
And John knew that those who were coming to be baptized were coming as hypocrites, pretending to exhibit an inward change by desiring an outward action.
But John in this chapter describes the real fruit bearing results of repentance in verses 10-14 of chapter three.
Luke 3:10-14, And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? 11He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. 12Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? 13And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. 14And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.
These verses indicate that fruit bearing must include such items as generosity, fairness, thoughtfulness, and as according to Matthew 23:23, such things as justice, mercy and faith, and uprightness.
This same theme is expressed by John when he says in:
Luke 3:8b, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
The reason why these people were headed for a devilís hell was that they were relying on their descent from Abraham for their eternal security.
They were relying on the outward.
People in every age and in this age do the very same thing.
If you are raised by Christian parents you must be a Christian, many conclude.
If you go to a Christian school you must be OK.
But when a sinner totally trusts and relies on the outward there is not much care for the inward.
John the Baptist knew that physical descent from Abraham did not guarantee being a true son of Abraham.
Faith was the critical ingredient of such a relationship.
The God who was able to create Adam out of the dust of the ground was also able to make true sons of Abraham out of the desert stones to which John may have pointed as he preached.
God can change hearts of stone into obedient hearts entirely, regardless of the nationality of those hearts of stone.
We can see here in these words of John the Baptist a preparation for the ingrafting of the gentiles because of the rejection of the Messiah by the Jews.
As John continues with his warning.
Abraham is no safe refuge from the axe of the woodsman.
9And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
A preacher of the gospel cannot emphasize this enough.
The necessity of fruit bearing of Godís creatures is essential.
God is a husbandman and as a husbandman demands fruit from his trees so God demands fruit from those he creates.
And those who do not bear fruit are like the trees that meet with the fate of the axe and are cast into the fire.
And that includes people who call themselves sons of Abraham without having the faith of Abraham.
These are the same people who expect to be right with God without repentance.
Trying to be right with God without repentance, without a God changed heart, is the greatest form of pride because it elevates oneself to worthiness before God and it counts the sacrifice of Christ as worthless and unnecessary.
It is that pride that comes before destruction and faces destruction to the end with a self righteousness that will not prevail with a God who demands fruit bearing.
Trying to be right with God without repentance is simply calling God a liar and Christ the Son of a liar.
Another characteristic of John was that he was a man of prayer.
A man cannot preach the way John did without prayer.
We remember the request of the disciples to Jesus asking him to teach them to pray but what example did they use when they asked Jesus to teach them?
Look at: Luke 11:1, And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
Now wouldnít that warm the heart of a pastor, that of being asked sincerely by his flock to be taught to pray?
Now John knew the importance of prayer and he wanted people around him to join him in prayer.
He was not about to be the only one praying.
We have a wonderful time of silent prayer on Saturday morning for an half an hour and we have a fairly fixed body of pray-ers come each Saturday.
Our group is steady but we welcome additions, like in anything growth is welcome.
Pray that God will help you to break out of your Saturday moring habit and come join us for we too like to have folks praying for the people and the ministries of Grace Bible Church.
But we are told in Luke 11 that John took the time to teach his disciples to pray and his example was brought up to the Lord Jesus Christ when his disciples asked to be taught to pray.
This ministry should run on prayer.
If this ministry ever gets to the place where prayer is not needed for it to run, then it has become a place of worldliness and it has just become a place of business and employment.
The world is filled with so called Christian ministries that simply run on good business principles like any other business but I can tell you this, that that ministry is not doing Godís will.