Summary: Repentance is the very marrow of our Christianity.
Marrow of Christianity – 01.04.09
READ: Matthew 3:1-12
Introduction – I visited Ben and found out that he might have a bone marrow problem. Explain. At same time I’ve been studying Matthew 3. Confluence. What is the marrow of our Christianity? Are we producing the right stuff?
#1 Christianity is known by …
_____REPENTANCE_____, NOT ____RELIGION_____
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…” But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Matthew 3:2,7
Background – Pharisees and Sadducees
Brood of vipers – “like a stick” – Paul bitten by one – Ancients thought they ate their way out of their mother – Forest fire.
What is Repentance? Is it a one-time thing?
Repentance (from Easton’s Bible Dictionary) involves:
a. a true sense of one’s own guilt and sinfulness;
b. an apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ;
c. an actual hatred of sin and turning from it to God; and
d. a persistent endeavor after a holy life by walking with God in the way of his commandments.
Turning – Story of Wabush
Wabush, a town in a remote portion of Labrador, Canada, was completely isolated for some time. But recently a road was cut through the wilderness to reach it. Wabush now has one road leading into it, and thus, only on one road leading out. If someone would travel the unpaved road for six to eight hours to get into Wabush, there is only way he or she could leave—-by turning around.
Religious Doesn’t Cut It
A. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.”
George Gallup - Churched and Unchurched
There’s little difference in ethical behavior between the churched and the unchurched. There’s as much pilferage and dishonesty among the churched as the unchurched. And I’m afraid that applies pretty much across the board: religion, per se, is not really life changing. “Vital Signs,” Leadership
B. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church’s integrity problem is in the misconception “that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior.”
… Which leads us to our second point …
#2 Christianity is proven by …
____GOOD RESULTS____, NOT __GOOD INTENTIONS____
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance… Even now the axe 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. Matthew 3:8,10
Bearing Fruit the consistent message of N.T.
Jesus on false prophets:
Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:20
Paul before King Agrippa says what his message is:
Repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. Acts 26:20b
Underline “GOOD” fruit!
I used to think it was just any kind of fruit and that I had to be doing something… a results oriented Christianity… a doer. But that’s not it. We ALL BEAR FRUIT. Natural result of living. What kind of fruit? The kind that only comes about by God in our lives? Definition of fruit for John Baptist in Luke 3.
#3 Christianity is established by …
__THE GOD I KNOW___, NOT ___THE PEOPLE I KNOW___
And do no 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. Matthew 3:9
Stones – Gentiles, dead to God.
Jesus: Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. Matthew 21:43
Paul: If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29
For us today, not about Jewish but there are others…
a. parents’ faith
b. right theology / church / denomination
c. myself, memory of salvation experience – but don’t know God!
Transition: This message up until now is actually BAD NEWS, because none of us, by ourselves, can bear the right kind of fruit and none of us, by ourselves, can know God. What did John say next?
#4 Christianity is empowered by …
__THE HOLY SPIRIT___, NOT ___MY INNER SPIRIT___
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. Matthew 3:11