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Summary: John the Baptist, the last of the OT prophets or the first of the NT, proclaimed Law and the need to repent, but also Gospel and how to be forgiven. He looked forward to Jesus and must have been elated when he was told what Jesus said and did

Matthew 11: 2-15 The message John the Baptist preached

and the message he received

Lutherans are very firm on teaching Law and Gospel

and emphasising the correct distinction between the two.

We need them both, Law and Gospel,

God's Law, rules, duties and percepts,

and God's Gospel of grace and forgiveness of sin,

and both are in every book in the Bible

as Hector has shown in his series of Bible Studies.

John the Baptist preached God's Law and the need for everyone to repent,

and the message he received was God's Gospel,

the Good News of who Jesus was and what He said and what He did.

With regard to John the Baptist's preaching of Law,

most people like to be popular, so they say and do things

inclined to endear them to others,

but John was not someone who was prepared to tickle people’s ears

so they would join his fan club.

He believed God had called him to be an Elijah,

a preparer of the way for the Messiah,

Someone (with a capital S) greater than him,

who would come after him;

and at the right time according to God's plan

Jesus came, also preaching the need for repentance,

but also healing the lame, lepers, and deaf people

and also raising people from the dead.

Saying and doing what God made His Son incarnate,

flesh,

to say and do.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews defined 'faith'

as the 'evidence of things not seen'

but John's disciples, who came to Jesus,

asking Him Who He really was, and what He was all about,

were given evidence in the form of people they could see, touch and talk to,

whose lives had been made much better by their encounter with Jesus.

….......................................................................................................

There are many religions in the world,

but they all boil down to one of two types,

religions of law and religions of grace.

A religion of law produces a fearful, uncertain clinging,

to the proposition that if a person’s good deeds outweigh his bad,

God, or the gods, will look upon him with favour,

so the emphasis is on ”I do this GOOD”

or “I try not to do that BAD”

whereas a religion of grace recognizes one’s personal helplessness

and inability to EARN or MERIT favour with God,

so the emphasis is on “what God does”.

That is the difference between Arminians on the one hand (“I got saved”)

and Lutherans and Calvinists on the other (“GOD saved me”).

The wonderful good news is that God for Christ’s sake

rescues us from our sin and from our helplessness.

The Bible says we are dead in our sins.

A dead person cannot bring themselves back to life.

Like Lazarus or Jairus' daughter or the widown of Nain's son,

it took Jesus to bring them back to life.

Similarly there is nothing we can do about being dead in OUR sins;

we need Jesus to give us life, eternal life.

In spite of our lack of merit

whereby we could expect or even demand something,

….................................................................................................

Let us look at John the Baptist.

John was born of special parents.

He was of the priestly race by both parents,

for his father Zacharias was himself a priest of the clan of Abijah

who was offering incense in the Temple at the very time

when a son was promised to him;

and Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron.

Both were devout persons,

walking in the commandments of God,

and waiting for the fulfilment of his promise to Israel.

…..............................................................................................................

Elizabeth’s son, John was a special child

because he was called to a mission

decided by God long before his birth,

a mission to proclaim the coming of the Messiah.

came with a message of both law and the need for repentance,

and a message of grace because God had revealed to him

that Someone would come after him

who would have the power and authority to forgive people's sins.

John’s job was to make people ready for that coming

by proclaiming that everyone,

every single human being, including us,

needs to repent and turn to the Lord,

for there is no salvation by any other means.

That word repent is simple to understand

but more difficult to put into practice, because of human nature,

and of course, the devil, who does not want to lose anyone.

Repentance, or 'metanoia' in the Greek,

It is defined as a complete reversal of one’s attitude and values,

a turning toward God,

a great experiencing of regret for past conduct

which causes a change one’s mind regarding it;

a change for the better as a result of remorse or contrition or guilt

for one’s sins, trespasses, or 'debts'.

…..................................................................................................................

John preached the message of repentance, change,

but his message of 'Law' was, and still is, difficult for many people,

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