Good to be with you this morning. Thank you, Elena and Chase, for leading us week in and week out. Elena drives up from Birmingham every Saturday and practices with Chase Saturday night, and they get here early and practice again. So thank you for their commitment to want to lead us in excellence every morning. So thank you to you guys so much. We’re going to be in Matthew again, Matthew chapter 3.

A new chapter, at least, so it’s something else.

Matthew chapter 3, verses 1 through 12. So if you have your Bibles, I would ask you to turn with me there. Matthew chapter 3, this morning.

I’ll read this for us. It says, As in those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven. For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight. Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, You brood of vipers, who warn dutifully from the wrath to come, bear fruit in keeping with repentance, and do not presume 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, thrown into the ground. 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. His 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.

There are things that I think we all like, personal comforts, food foods. So we’re having a men’s waffle breakfast, not a men’s pancake breakfast in a few weeks, because I love waffles over pancakes. I know they’re about the same thing, but whatever, I love them. And waffles are good however you make them, and usually I have to use corn syrup, because it’s more affordable, right? If you ever see maple syrup, it’s very expensive. So it’s not the real thing, but it makes do. Well, several years ago I had a friend go up to Pennsylvania, and they brought me back real,

maple syrup. And there’s nothing like real maple syrup, but as soon as it runs out, you’re back to buying whatever, because I’m not paying for it. And so there are things in life that you can have, and you can kind of move on and do with a knockoff, do with a generic, and it just is so. But there are things in life you can’t do with a knockoff. You can’t do with the generic.

China, for the third time, just a couple months ago, they got in a lot of trouble, their drug companies, because they were putting out, they were putting out fake vaccines. Hundreds of thousands of babies and children were getting injected with fake vaccines for diphtheria, for tetanus, and whooping cough. So how would you like to be a parent in China, and your child got a fake vaccine, presumably to save money, I don’t know why they’ve done this for a third time now, and your child gets sick, all to discover they didn’t get the real thing. The real thing makes all the difference. Sometimes. We’ve been talking about the king, we’ve been talking about his kingdom, and what John’s going to talk about particularly this morning is entrance into that kingdom. And that kingdom is not something you and I can just waltz right into. I think I’ll go in there. To come into the kingdom, there’s a certain type of response, a certain way of being that John is talking about to us this morning in his life and ministry, in our passage this morning. And repentance. Repentance. That’s what John’s talking about. And John’s going to make very clear to us, we must have true repentance to come to the kingdom. Something like it will not do. Something very similar will not do. It makes all the difference. And we’ll see it in the very end. So go back to verse 1 with me. It says, In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he who has spoken, spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight. Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. So we left off with Jesus as a child growing up in Nazareth. It’s a lot of anonymity. It’s a lot of anonymity for him. He’s away from what’s really happening in Jewish life and society. So Jesus has grown up. He’s probably about 30 years old now. But before Jesus starts his earthly ministry, God commissions Jesus’ cousin, John, to have a ministry for a time. It’s a unique ministry John has, and it’s one of preparation. It’s not an end in itself. John only has Jesus in mind for why he is conducting his ministry. And John’s ministry, it consists of two things. It consists of a message, and it consists of baptism. But before we consider the person John or his message, I want us to consider the place of John.

John is not in a hustling, bustling city where all the people are. He’s not going to the synagogues. He’s not going to the popular places. He’s not going with the ebb and flow of cultural Jewish life. He’s not trying to rub shoulders. He’s not trying to rub shoulders with powerful political leaders to get favor with his movement, with his ministry, with his message. It’s not what he’s doing at all. John is separate in the place he lives. John is separate in the place he does his ministry. He’s in the wilderness, which is uniquely separate and distinct. It’s away from the place where man’s opinions are, man’s culture, man’s grip. It is distinct in that it is unstained by man. And here in this unstained place by man, John preaches his message, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Now in this very distinct place, John preaches this message of repentance, which is a steep one. Because to say to Jewish people who thought themselves right because they had God’s law, that’s not easy listening there. Because this repentance that John’s talking about, it’s not just change your mind. Repentance is first changing your mind. But is it changing your mind to the end that your whole self is reoriented? I thought this way. I had this kind of attitude. I had this kind of behavior. But now I’m going to completely reorient myself to go in an entirely different direction. So the repentance John’s talking about, it’s very radical. It’s very severe. It’s not for the faint of heart. And John says that this repentance, it’s a pressing urgency for the people because he says the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It’s upon us. It’s getting ready to come. Now Matthew unique from Mark, Luke, and John, says kingdom of heaven where they say kingdom of God. There is no difference. Speaking to a Jewish society, kingdom of heaven would have been preferable. So talking about this kingdom though, it’s not first physical. Like when you and I think kingdom, I think of like a king with like these big walls and he’s coming on army with the horses and going to wipe out another kingdom instead of his kingdom. It’s not that yet. This kingdom is unique in that it is first a spiritual kingdom. That’s the kind of kingdom God’s bringing. So here’s how I want to define the kingdom of God for us this morning. The kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God is the complete and entire spiritual rule and reign of God in the hearts, minds, and lives of His people. It is the complete and entire spiritual reign of God in the hearts, minds, and lives of His people. And John says you don’t want to be found unrepentant at the spiritual kingdom that’s come, but you certainly don’t want to be found unrepentant when it comes as a physical manifestation.

So John is this one though that Isaiah has already spoken of. Isaiah way back says someone’s going to come to the wilderness and he’s going to say prepare the way of the Lord, make His path straight. But now John didn’t say that. In ancient times when a royal family was coming into town, you would have prepared the roads. You would have made sure that they were very smooth. You would have leveled them out and that tells royalty these people care that I’m coming. So the way that John is preparing the way of the Lord is by preaching repentance. If your heart would be turned towards this king and this kingdom, we are in effect seeing the roads prepared for this great king Jesus and His ministry to start. That’s what John’s doing. So we’ve considered the message and the place of John, but consider his person.

John wears camel hair and a leather belt.

No, that’s not fashionable then. Don’t think, oh, that must have been in fashion in ancient Israel. It wasn’t. It’s as bad as it sounds.

Camel hair and a leather belt, that’s just what you could find when you lived out in the middle of nowhere. So John is nothing to dote at. He’s nothing to see in his appearance. And when we read he ate locusts and wild honey,

again, not a culinary delight. Bugs are bugs. This was what poor people would have eaten who lived in the middle of nowhere. So you could have eaten, it was allowed under the dietary laws of Moses, but we can’t get away from the fact that they’re locusts and wild honey is what you find in the wild. Right? So John, his whole life, it’s very separate. His place, his manner of living distinctly plain. His taste for the finer things non-existent. All we really have left of the man John is his message.

Because it says that Jerusalem and all Judea and all those around the Jordan were coming out to him. They’re letting this very distinctly plain man plunge them beneath the water as a sign of repentance that they are broken and not ready for this coming king. And so I wonder, is it possible that the reason John’s message of repentance is so powerful and effective is because John himself is showing them what it looks like to live a repentant life. He’s different. And his difference, it seems, sticks out. He has no objective but to be turned towards this coming kingdom, this coming Christ. Is it any wonder that when Jesus takes away the spotlight from John, which he does when he starts his ministry, John says, he must increase, I must decrease.

The first mark of true repentance I think John shows us this morning is it must be earnest and it must be complete. The question for us is this, not how much do I have to give away to get Christ. How much do I have to give up? Rather, have I given you enough yet, Lord? It’s a heart posture. I don’t want to hold something back because true repentance, friends, it produces in us a holy disdain, a carelessness for the things of the world we once valued, we once treasured when we were void of the spiritual rule and reign of God in our hearts, lives, and our minds. A kingdom, if it’s so, if it’s so precious, if it’s so wonderful, it’s not going to be all that much to lose what we have to gain infinitely more. So true repentance, when it shows itself in our lives, friends, a full manifestation and earnestness and completeness, it’s not willing to hold on to the lesser at the sake of losing what’s far greater. This is at the heart of what God says to His people who are unrepentant in Ezekiel 18, verse 30. He says, Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, everyone according to his way, he declares the Lord of God, repent and turn from some of your sins. That’s not what he says. He says turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. So see, it’s that full and complete nature of repentance that doesn’t just give us a desire to get the new thing, but just as much a desire to lose the old thing. The holiness, the righteousness of Christ in His kingdom ought to become more and more beautiful, beautiful to our eyes as the lives we once lived, our old loves, our old affections, they become more and more hideous and repulsive. Because here’s what true repentance shows us. It’s not just different. Well, here’s one option, here’s another option. No, they’re opposite God’s kingdom and man’s kingdom. Sin and holiness, they’re completely clashing like a fine wine, I guess, and sewage water. It’s two completely different things. I’ve heard a preacher chalk it up to a pig. Can you imagine a pig eating muskets, and trash, and he’s just loving it, rotting food, just going at it. And all of a sudden, that man, or that pig is turned into a man. And that man is disgusted with what he’s doing and he violently throws up at what just a moment ago he loved so much. In Paul’s words, if we have true repentance and we’ve turned, there will be within us a holy grief over the former sins. And even when we try to live like we are no longer, as if we pretend at times like we’re still in the old kingdom, Paul says, if you’ve truly repented, there will be a godly grief in you. See it in 2 Corinthians 7.

Verse 9, As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, Paul’s not sorry they were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment at every point you have proved yourselves innocent

in the matter. God’s grace, yes, it gives us an acquired taste for heaven, but it gives us a holy disgust for sin as God is disgusted with it.

I will say this, I’m afraid we live in a day and age, and I’m talking about inside the church, where zeal for holiness is unfashionable. Quickly, the person that is zealous to be careful what their eyes see, what their ears hear, put themselves in certain situations where there could be a temptation to sin, oh, that’s a legalist right there. Haven’t you heard about grace? See, what we’ve done is we’ve taken grace and we’ve turned it into this perverted license to be lazy,

spiritually slothful in our zeal for holiness. God’s grace, we’ve apprehended, or should I say, it’s apprehended, us so that we can see the lethal, deadly effects of sin and be zealous to stay away from it. This is what Paul writes to Titus. We’ve been trained for godliness. We’ve been given a zeal for holiness. So, I’m not suggesting works-based salvation. I’m not suggesting we should stay away from the world and never try to influence it. Only this, if we have truly repented, we’ll be very wise not to be influenced by it because we see the grace of God that has freely saved us.

And taking a closer look at John, here’s what I think we see in this man that’s remarkable. John is not just repenting of what is obviously wrong and sinful. He is. John’s also willing, though, to part with that which is good, but not most helpful in attaining godliness. He forsakes the many good comforts and pleasures of life because he doesn’t want to miss out on that one thing he wants most.

And it presses me to consider, for myself, how often is my zeal for Christ, my focus on Christ clouded because of certain amenities I call necessities.

Luxuries I think I must have and when there are absences of these conveniences, it’s grounds for me to make myself a martyr.

I would go on a mission trip,

but what are the sleeping arrangements going to be? And are they going to have hot showers? These are not fake reasons. These are real reasons. I think sometimes people don’t do this stuff. And what about security and safety? Now, don’t hit anybody next to you. That’s not what we’re doing.

And then you think about giving. Lord, yeah, I want to be generous and I want to give as you’ve called me to give. But you know, I’ve got retirement to think about. What if a rainy day comes? So I would be generous and give my all away financially, but I’ve got to think about me and mine. And a lot of us have really big homes and we don’t have a lot of money. We could let someone needy live with us, someone who could benefit and profit from being discipled for a season in our family. But hey, that’s my personal space. So we get all these really good reasons. And the problem with good reasons is they often choke out the godly. And I come to this very painful conclusion sometimes about myself. I’m too soft for Jesus.

Because, you know, the devil, he’s not trying to get you to apostatize. I don’t think that’s the goal. I think he just doesn’t want us to be all that serious about following Jesus. I think that would be enough. Not too earnest. And we forget those words of our Lord and Savior Jesus. He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom. So Jesus stirs us up to zealousness for repentance, for earnestness to live towards Christ.

George Mueller, a 19th century preacher, theologian, he was burdened for the great problem of homeless children. It was a rampant problem in his time. And so George Mueller homed, educated, fed thousands upon thousands of orphans in his time. Really an incredible work of God. He lived largely in poverty. I’ve read accounts where they would be all sitting down for dinner. He’d have the children all sit down. They’d have plates in front of them. No idea where the food was coming from. They would just sit there and pray. And there would come a knock on the door and someone brought food right there at dinner time. Really a man of amazing, amazing faith.

Someone once asked George Mueller the secret of his service. And here’s what Mueller said.

There was a day when I died.

Utterly died. Died to George Mueller, to his opinions, his preferences, his tastes, and will. Died to the world, its approval. Died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends. And since then, I have studied to show myself approved. Proved only to God.

That’s an earnest repentance. That’s a complete death to self. Because you know the world is not all that interested in the gospel and life in the church when we look just like the world. It’s evangelistic when we ourselves first start with us and talk about how we’re going to look like Christ and so look different from the world. And we’re saying hate, not hate like wrong, but as God hates sin, so we must hate sin. It must be a joy to cut loose things that aren’t wrong with things that are keeping us from all that God is calling us to be for Him and in Him. Friends, that’s true repentance. So I think the prayer is, Lord, stir up in us a zealousness for You that’s willing to cut loose all ties. And with Paul say, I’m glad to lose it all that I would gain Christ. Gain Christ.

It’s true repentance.

Look at verse 7 with me.

It says, But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, You brood of vipers, who warn you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance and do not presume to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I tell you, God is able from these stubs, to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the ox 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. So John sees the Pharisees coming, as one commentator noted, to, not for, his baptism. And who are the Pharisees? Well, Pharisees mean separatists. So these people are superior in that they think they keep the law better than everyone else. Not only have the Pharisees supposedly kept the law, they’ve made up a bunch of their own laws and rules and regulations on top of it. So they made obedience to God very burdensome for the people. The Sadducees, another religious group, they were very wealthy. They were very friendly with the Romans who were oppressing the Jews. They thought themselves tied to the true priestly line of Israel. So what we have here in our passage, though, are religious hacks. That’s what we have. John sees them coming and he addresses them harshly. He says, you brood of vipers. You who are the offspring is what it means. You’re the children of that which is poisonous. That which kills. That which takes life away.

Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, said that Arabian vipers, the babies would eat through the mother to get out. So he could very well be making a reference to what they would have known. You’re not just wicked and evil. You would kill your own parents. If it would be to your advantage. So he’s a double punch here. He’s being very direct with them here. And he follows up this by saying, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Very sarcastic and biting. But if they’re so righteous and if they’re so holy, why do they need to be at John’s baptism to confess sin and repent? People should be coming to them. Jesus said of them, on the outside you look so clean, but on the inside, you’re wicked and you’re greedy and you’re dirty. So they thought themselves safe from the wrath of God. But in fact, they were the ones who were in most danger of receiving it. John says to them actually what they need to hear. And here’s what you and I need to hear this morning. John says to them, bear fruit in keeping with repentance. In other words, if your life is so holy and if your repentance is so true, how come every day after that, doesn’t correspond? How come the manner of your life and your behaviors and your attitudes and your thoughts don’t just ooze holiness? How come repentance isn’t clear in the way you’re going about your lives? That’s what John is trying to help them see. And he follows it up by saying, hey, and don’t think that just because you’re related to Abraham, you’re safe either. So John is shooting through their false hope here. They think they’re eternally safe and secure because Abraham is a blood relative. He’s saying that doesn’t matter at all. God can raise up, he can raise up a special people from rocks if he wanted to do that. Here’s what the Pharisees and the Sadducees were doing. They were making gross assumptions about the internal state of their hearts based on external factors of religion that could do nothing to produce true repentance, which means they were only capable of producing bad fruit. And John takes it another step further. He gives them this very frightening scenery. He says, even now, even now, the axe is laid not to the trunk, not to the trunk of the tree. He says, to the root.

John says, he who doesn’t produce this good fruit of the kingdom isn’t just going to be cut down some. You’re going to be taken out of the ground and you’re going to be thrown into the fire. And now, I think we kind of want to say, hey, why does John have to be so rough and tough? Why can’t he have a little bit more mellow language? Why does he have to speak like this to them? Well, because John is wise to what we ought to be.

Judgment is real.

Judgment day, if you want to take God at His word, as John does, it’s not a game. It’s a very real reality for every person. And friends, if we’re not producing good fruit of the kingdom, it’s cause for concern to wonder, have I truly repented? Have I turned towards this kingdom? So really, this is the most kind thing that John can do, is speak to them so forcefully in hopes to wake them up from their religious stupor. It’s like a child in front of a semi-truck.

Excuse me, young man. I know I don’t know you, and you’ve got about seven seconds left here, but I just want to say, do you want to think about if you want to get out of the way of that semi-truck? I mean, I don’t want to judge or tell you what’s best for your life.

Hey, you’re getting ready to die. Get out of the way. John is saying to them, your lives, the fruit of it, says you’re in no way repentant people.

So here’s the second mark of true. True repentance from John. It must be obvious and ongoing in its change and growth. Friends, if repentance is real, it’s obvious and ongoing in change and growth. Because repentance is not a one-time event. Repentance is a disciplined lifestyle of more and more turning from sin, turning from self, turning more and more to Christ, His life, His holiness, as the kingdom of God is more and more and more produced in me. And we’ve made this great error in the church. Of letting people think, if there was this one time you said these words and you raised your hand or you walked down an aisle, that must mean you are eternally secure no matter what. Now friends, true conversion does happen in one moment’s time. I would never argue that. But if it is real, it will be worked out over a lifetime through a process called sanctification by which you’re made more holy, you’re made more righteous as time goes on. That’s the hard proof. This is what Jesus, Jesus says. Jesus says in John 15, verse 5, I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears fruit. For apart from Me, you can do nothing. So this idea that it’s a one-time event and I’m saved forever, friends, that’s a great arrogance for us to think that kind of thing. To say I needed God at salvation, I can work out godliness on my own past and present. That’s that. And many have staked their salvation on this one moment that does nothing to inform, it’s not connected with the rest of their life that they’re living after that. So yes, I would say we have a problem with immature disciples in the church, but just as much, friends, we have an epidemic of false conversions.

I’m not trying to be Mr. Doom and Gloom. I’m just seeing how John deals in reality and I think if we’re faithful to the Scriptures, we have to do the very same thing. Repentance is a process of salvation. Surrendering to Christ more and more that we would be fit for His kingdom. And let me also say useful to it. I should desire to be used of God. If I’m convicted in the moment for salvation, I need a conviction as time goes on to preserve and keep me in godliness. I need Thee. Oh, I need Thee every hour. I need Thee. So the power of the Christian life, yes, is in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for eternal security. But friends, the power of the Christian life is in what God is doing in me right now.

The psalmist declares, Lord, Your nearness is my good. An ongoing nearness to God by which we are preserved and we are grown and we are equipped and we are changed. That’s what we need. That’s the ongoing obvious fruit of true repentance. So you see, it’s a great kindness then what Scripture says to us. Test yourself. Test yourself. Make sure you’re in the faith. It’s not to scare us. It’s to smack us in the face. Hey! Stop living like that. Aren’t you saved? Live like it. That’s what the Scriptures say to us. It’s stirring us up. It’s encouraging us to be people that we’ve said we are in our repentance to Christ and away from this world.

Because the alternative is a dreadful reality. And that’s what John draws out. Hebrews 10.31

Scariest verse in the Bible maybe. It says, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. It’s a fearful thing. So hold on to this. Deep roots in Christ make for obvious and effective fruit for Christ. If I’ve got deep roots in Christ, more and more as time goes on, those roots grow deeper. They grow out. And my fruit becomes more apparent. It becomes more obvious. It becomes more effective and useful for service in God’s kingdom.

I hear sometimes the word decisions when people talk about people coming to faith in Christ. And I get it. And I’m not knocking it at all. I’m not knocking it at all. Sometimes you hear churches say or Christian events, you know, at a conference, and they’ll say things like, we had 500 decisions for the Lord. And I think, well, that’s wonderful. But those people that made that decision,

are they now going to continue in a process of discipleship? Because Jesus didn’t say go and get decisions. He said go and make disciples. And discipleship is a process by which we walk with people to spiritual godliness. One of my favorite men of church history, Dawson Trotman. Name my son after Dawson Trotman. Dawson Trotman was a drunk. He was just a nothing of a man. And the Lord got a hold of him and he began to just preach the gospel and memorize scripture and just love God, love people, and make disciples. But earlier on in Dawson’s ministry, he ran into a man who he had once seen come to conversion, yet that man had fallen back into living the same lifestyle. And it hits Dawson. I can’t just introduce these people to Jesus. I’ve got to walk with them so that they grow up and know Jesus more and more. And to make the point, I have a very close acquaintance. And this acquaintance, he and I have talked about the Bible. We’ve talked about the gospel. And he says that he’s an atheist and believes it’s all bunk. But this is a very real conversation. He said when he was a kid, he was at a church. He was at a church service. And the preacher said, if you want to be saved, you just raise your hand and you come down the aisle. So he said, I don’t believe that any of it’s true, but just in case it is, I’m safe and I get to heaven because I got really emotional and I walked down the aisle when I was a kid.

Friends, what are we doing if the message of the cross is die once? It’s not die once. It’s die daily. It is ongoing. It is ongoing. It is ongoing. So I want us to be a church, friends, that we don’t just see converts. Yes, praise God for converts. But let’s walk with them to grow up in Jesus. Let’s follow Jesus together with them. I’m burdened to be a pastor that equips you to keep growing in your faith. I don’t want any of us to fall away. So I’ll keep pushing even when you don’t like it. Especially when you don’t like it. And we’ll keep pushing one another and we’ll keep repenting until we arrive in Jesus. Glory together. And I can’t say I have all the answers, but let me say we know the One who does have all the answers. And if we abide in Him, friends, if we abide in Him, we’ll bear much fruit. We’ll bear much fruit. So let’s be a dependent people believing that without God everything is vain and it is for naught. We need Jesus who is the author and the perfecter of our faith.

Verse 11.

John says, 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. His winnowing fork is in His hand and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn. The chaff He will burn with unquenching fire. The chaff He will burn with unquenching fire. Last week we talked about types. Remember this? Coming up out of Egypt, it was a type for the people of God, for Jesus who would be the true Savior. We have again here a glorious type. John’s baptism was a water baptism.

It was for the people as an outward sign and symbol to recognize that they were obsessed with self and they loved pleasure and they had made idols and they were obsessed with God. They were obsessed with the opinions and values and culture of people that they were living for comfort. It was a repentance. It was a brokenness over the fact that it was true. But John’s water baptism couldn’t do anything for them as much as taking a shower in the morning isn’t going to fix you if you need heart surgery. It was a sign. It was a pointer to something greater. To Jesus who would come and baptize not with water, but Jesus who would baptize His church and the Holy Spirit. And friends, it’s when you and I, our souls have been soaked in and regenerated and brought back to spiritual life by the Spirit of God that we truly repent. We truly don’t desire the things of the world. We desire Heaven. Only the Spirit can produce ongoing growth and ongoing change. Only the Spirit can guide and correct and encourage us. Only the Spirit can bear with us all the way through. That’s what Jesus will do uniquely in His ministry that John’s ministry and baptism only pointed towards.

And John uses this imagery of an agricultural imagery of someone bringing the harvest. And the way you would have done it is with the fork you would have flicked the wheat up in the air and the chaff would blow away and you’d be left with the wheat and you’d bind up that chaff. That you would burn and the other you would take in and store away.

So to say we’re baptized with fire it means this. The Spirit of God can baptize you in fire now for purification to remove the dross to remove the impurities and so prepare you for eternal life.

But if not still God would baptize you in fire but not for purification but for judgment. John leaves us with a very piercing burning reality friends that we have to make a decision. Repentance in this life turning from turning to the Christ or not it leaves us out of the kingdom. So John yes he’s punchy he’s pushy in his words but it’s in love he wants us to understand the shortness of time the reality the foreverness of heaven and hell. So this morning I just want to leave us with John’s words I don’t think I could do anything better repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Let’s pray.

Preacher: Chad Cronin

Passage: Matthew 3:1-12