Summary: Encouraging Christian committment
Becoming An Authentic Christian
“Growing together towards Christian maturity…”
Matthew 3: 1-12
1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
He reprimands the Pharisees, and baptizes Jesus in Jordan
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
9 And think 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.
10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Matt 3:1-12 (KJV)
1 While they were living in Nazareth, John the Baptist began preaching out in the Judean wilderness. His constant theme was,
2 "Turn from your sins . . . turn to God . . . for the Kingdom of Heaven is coming soon."
3 Isaiah the prophet had told about John’s ministry centuries before! He had written, "I hear a shout from the wilderness, ’Prepare a road for the Lord--straighten out the path where he will walk.’ "
4 John’s clothing was woven from camel’s hair and he wore a leather belt; his food was locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem and from all over the Jordan Valley, and, in fact, from every section of Judea went out to the wilderness to hear him preach,
6 and when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.
7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he denounced them. "You sons of snakes!" he warned. "Who said that you could escape the coming wrath of God?
8 Before being baptized, prove that you have turned from sin by doing worthy deeds.
9 Don’t try to get by as you are, thinking, ’We are safe for we are Jews--descendants of Abraham.’ That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into Jews!
10 "And even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised to chop down every unproductive tree. They will be chopped and burned.
11 "With water I baptize those who repent of their sins; but someone else is coming, far greater than I am, so great that I am not worthy to carry his shoes! He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
12 He will separate the chaff from the grain, burning the chaff with never-ending fire and storing away the grain."
Matt 3:1-12 (Living)
As I stand before you offering to you a vision given by God for our Church. Growing together towards Christian maturity is a vision of steadfastness, and rock solid faith. I admit that I sometimes become perplexed that when we think about vision it is often couched in the material and not the spiritual. We think about fine buildings and large numbers in particular to Church goals and plans for the future. We do that because we are conditioned to think first in the flesh and not so much in the spiritual. After all we were first born in the physical. However, God would have us to understand that the material things of this world will pass away. He would rather that we look to the riches of the spiritual. What I see is a need for us, Shiloh, God’s people, is to become, authentic, real for Him. Growing together towards Christian maturity is not just a good play on words but an expression of what ought to be important in the Church. The implication is for us to become authentic, real, true to life, everything that God wants for us. For as surely as I stand before you a message was sent to us and the whole Christian community on September11. The message was that material things mean absolutely nothing. Those towers represented the world’s riches and the Pentagon represented military might and they both crumbled in a matter of minutes. A real relationship with God in the spirit is the true gold of life here and in the life to come. That’s what John the Baptist preached in the wilderness. Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.