Sermon #19 Luke Sermons
Title: BAPTIST PREACHING
Text: Luke 3:7-14
Subject: The Kind of Preaching that Characterized
John the Baptist’s Ministry
Date: Sunday Evening – December 19, 1999
Tape # V-60b
Readings: Office: Don Martin Auditorium: Ron Wood
John the Baptist was no ordinary man, in any sense of the word "ordinary." He was a remarkable man, a remarkable believer, and a remarkable preacher. It was impossible to ignore him or pretend he was not around. Though few who heard him believed his message, everyone who heard him was affected by what they heard.
In the eleventh chapter of Matthew our Lord gave his own opinion about John the Baptist. Look at what he says there about this man -- (Matthew 11:7-11).
A preacher of such character and influence is a preacher whose example all preachers ought to follow. He sets the pattern for what preaching is and how it is to be done.
What were the leading features of his ministry? What were the primary characteristics of his preaching? These things are clearly set before us in the inspired record given in our text.
Proposition: John the Baptist's work as God's prophet, as a preacher, is to be measured, like every preacher's work is to be measured, not by his traits of personality, oratorical ability, social graces, and theological acumen, but by his message, by what he preached.
In the verses we have read, in those preceding and following, and in the whole account of John's life and ministry, we see that five things stick out as distinct characteristics of the Baptist's preaching.
I. First, and foremost, the first Baptist preacher preached redemption and remission of sins by the blood of Christ.
John came preparing the way of the Lord, preaching the baptism of repentance because of the remission of sins (v. 3). He incessantly pointed sinners to Christ, calling upon all who heard him to trust, love, and follow Christ. Even when he was in prison, about to be sacrificed for his faithfulness, he sent his disciples to Christ, to have the Savior's person and work confirmed to them (Matt. 11).
Turn to John's gospel. In chapter one, John the apostle, speaks in glowing terms about John the Baptist and his preaching.
Blessed is that man whose preaching is full of Christ, who spends his time and uses his opportunity to talk to eternity bound sinners about the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Blessed are they who hear him (Isa. 52:7).
All who know Christ esteem his blood precious; and all who preach Christ preach his blood precious (1 Pet. 1:18-20).
Why is the blood of Christ precious? Is there anyone here who does not know? His blood is precious blood because it is…
· His Blood.
· Sin-atoning Blood.
· Eternally Efficacious Blood.
· Divinely Ordained Blood.
· Redeeming Blood.
"E'er since by faith I saw the streams
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die!"
The Baptist's preaching was the preaching of blood atonement by the crucified Lamb of God. Paul's motto was his motto. Indeed, this is the motto of every preacher called and sent of God (1 Cor. 2:2; Gal. 6:14).
II. Second, John the Baptist knew that he spoke for God, with God’s power and authority, and therefore preached with a confidence that gave him holy boldness and courage before men.
John the Baptist was a man, not a sissy, or a wimp, but a man. He was not a reed shaken in the wind, bending with the breeze of popular opinion. This was not a pampered pastor who dared not offend those who pampered him. John the Baptist was God's servant. You could tell it when he preached (Lk. 3:7-8).
He saw the rottenness and hypocrisy of the religious world around him, and denounced it with pointed sharpness. His head was not turned by popularity. He courted no man’s favor and feared no man’s frown. He cared not who might be offended by his message.
The spiritual disease of those standing before him was disparate. He knew disparate disease required disparate measures. John the Baptist lived in disparate times, much like our own. He knew that the day in which he lived demanded disparate plainness of speech.
How sad it is that there are so few like this first Baptist preacher today! These days, the first, primary rule of preaching is -- "DO NOT OFFEND!" Preachers have a castrating fear of giving offense by direct, forthright, plain preaching.
If I would be faithful to your souls, I cannot stand up here and flatter you. If I would do you good, I dare not flinch from exposing your inmost corruption and sin by the Word of God, demanding and pressing upon the claims of Christ, forcing you, if I can, to repentance toward God and faith in Christ. If my object in preaching is to please you, rather than serve your soul’s eternal good, I am not the servant of God.
Because he was God’s servant, John told these people three things which are true of and ought to be declared to all men.
A. They were a generation of vipers, as deceitful as they were vile.
B. They were under and fully deserving of the wrath of God.
C. God did not need them to fulfil himself or make himself happy. -- "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."
When John the Baptist demanded that those he baptized “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance,” the word used for “bring forth” is the very same word used by the apostle in 1 John 3:4 and 7, when he tells us that people “committing sin” are yet without Christ, and that those “doing righteousness” have been made righteous. The word has the idea of practice, not of acts. Fruits “worthy of repentance,” fruits that show repentance to be genuine are those fruits (produce) formed in the believer, fruits reflected in the believer’s practice of life (Gal. 5:22-23).
A person’s true character is seen, not in isolated acts, but in the habit of his life.
III. John the Baptist spoke plainly and forcibly about the wrath of God and everlasting damnation in hell.
He did not hold back the fact that there is “wrath to come.” He faithfully warned all who heard him that God cut down every unprofitable tree and “cast it into the fire.”
The subjects of divine justice, judgment, wrath, and the everlasting torments of the damned in the fires of hell are always offensive to human nature. Men do not like to hear that they are going to hell They do not mind hearing that other people are going to hell. Just don’t suggest, much less plainly declare, that they or those they love are going to hell. It is the nature of all men to love to hear smooth things, not peril, danger, and punishment. People are willing to pay false prophets good money to tell them what they want to hear.
But that man who is faithful to God, faithful to the Book, and faithful to your soul will, like John the Baptist, Christ himself, all the prophets of old, and all the apostles warn you, with passion in his soul to “flee from the wrath to come.”
The fear of hell is not the primary motive for repentance and faith in Christ; but you will never seek heaven until you fear going to hell. You will never seek God’s salvation until you fear God’s wrath. You will never flee to the city of refuge until the avenger of justice is on your trail.
Hear me now, and tremble Hell is real. God almighty must and will punish sin. It is that God who swears, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” who…
· drove Adam and Eve out of the garden.
· destroyed the world in the flood of his wrath.
· rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
· nailed his on Son upon the cursed tree, and poured out on him all the fires of hell for his people, when he was made to be sin for us.
IV. In his preaching, the Baptist laid the axe to the root of every fruitless the tree.
With earnestness and conviction, he endeavored to destroy every refuge of lies in which sinners seek to hide from God.
A. When the multitudes of religious people stood before him, whose lives were manifestly wicked stood before him, he plainly declared to their faces, in public, that they were hypocrites.
It is vain to say with our lips, “I believe God,” if by our works we deny him. It is worse than vain. Such hypocrisy will gradually harden the heart and sear the conscience.
· A confession of faith without the consecration of faith is hypocrisy.
· Baptism without death and resurrection life in Christ, is a sham.
· Eating the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, if I do not feed upon the Lord’s flesh and blood, is eating an drinking damnation to myself.
To use the words of Inspiration, “FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD!” Such faith is nothing but the faith of devils (James 2:14-26).
B. John boldly and plainly denounced the commonly held notion of covenant family salvation.
The Jews, like multitudes today, thought they were certainly saved people, children of God, because they were Abraham’s descendants. John told them that their pedigree was no claim to grace.
Saving faith is a personal thing. It is not a family heirloom. When Paul said to the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house,” he was not saying, “If you believe God will save everyone (or anyone) in your house.” He was saying, “If you believe, you will be saved, and if your family believes, they will be saved, as well.”
V. John the Baptist faithfully brought the gospel home to the hearts and lives of his hearers, in the most practical way possible (Luke 3:10-14).
He told each one who professed faith in Christ by believer’s baptism, to live according to his profession for the glory of God.
A. He said to them all (v. 11), live no longer in selfish, self-centered gratification, but in love, kindness, charity, and generosity.
B. John told the converted publicans to be fair and honesty with all men, especially because the publicans were known for both dishonesty and severity (vv. 12-13).
C. John told those soldiers who were converted by the grace of God to take care not to be violent and abusive with people under their power and to be content with God’s provision
D. It should also be noted that John said nothing to indicate anything unlawful about either paying taxes or collecting them, or about serving as a soldier.
Remember, these publicans and soldiers were employs of the Roman Empire, one of the most morally corrupt, idolatrous systems of government the world has ever known. Our business is not with the kings of this world, but with the King of the world. Our concern is not the establishment or governing of kingdoms and nations, but with the kingdom of God.
Application: These five things characterized the Baptist’s preaching.
1. The Preaching Of Blood Redemption By Christ.
2. Courage And Boldness For The Glory Of God.
3. Plain Warnings About The Wrath Of God.
4. Plainness Of Speech In Destroying The Refuges In Which Sinners Would Hide From God.
5. Practical Application.
Oh, may God be pleased to revive preaching, this kind of preaching. Then, perhaps, he will revive his church, in these dark, dark days.