Sermons

Summary: Preparing our hearts for the Savior through genuine repentance.

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TRUE REPENTANCE HATES THE SIN, AND NOT MERELY THE PENALTY; AND IT HATES THE SIN MOST OF ALL BECAUSE IT HAS DISCOVERED AND FELT GOD’S LOVE.

BILLY GRAHAM, WHO HAS BEEN CONSIDERED BY SOME TO BE PLAYING THE 20TH CENTURY ROLE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, HAD THESE COMMENTS ABOUT THE SINFUL DISEASE RUNNING RAMPANT IN OUR WORLD: "WE’RE SUFFERING FROM ONLY ONE DISEASE IN THE WORLD. OUR BASIC PROBLEM IS NOT A RACE PROBLEM. OUR BASIC PROBLEM IS NOT A POVERTY PROBLEM. OUR BASIC PROBLEM IS NOT A WAR PROBLEM. OUR BASIC PROBLEM IS A HEART PROBLEM. WE NEED TO GET THE HEART CHANGED, THE HEART TRANSFORMED."

WE NEED TO TRANSFORM OUR HEARTS AND PREPARE THEM FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST. THE SAME CHRIST IN WHICH JOHN THE BAPTIST PREPARED THE WAY.

JOHN’S APPEARANCE WAS LONG OVERDUE TO THOSE WHO HELD THE SAYINGS OF THE PROPHETS IN THEIR HEARTS. JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS THE CRUCIAL FIGURE IN THE HISTORY OF REVELATION AND REDEMPTION THEY’D BEEN WAITING FOR.

JOHN’S APPEARANCE IN THE WILDERNESS WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN THE LIFE OF ISRAEL FOR MORE THAN FOUR HUNDRED YEARS.

THE ABSENCE OF A PROPHET THROUGHOUT THE LAST THREE CENTURIES HAD BEEN INTERPRETED TO SIGNIFY THAT THE PROPHETIC TASK WAS ACCOMPLISHED.

YET, DESPITE THE PROPHETIC DRY SPELL, THE ISRAELITES KNEW THAT THE PROPHET WHO WOULD "CRY OUT IN THE WILDERNESS" WOULD APPEAR TO THEM IN ORDER TO SIGNAL THE EVENTS SURROUNDING THE "LAST DAYS."

THEY CLUNG TIGHTLY TO THE WORDS OF MALACHI 3:1, "SEE, I AM SENDING MY MESSENGER TO PREPARE THE WAY BEFORE ME, AND THE LORD WHOM YOU SEEK WILL SUDDENLY COME TO HIS TEMPLE. THE MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT IN WHOM YOU DELIGHT - INDEED, HE IS COMING, SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS."

FINALLY, THIRTY YEARS AFTER HIS BIRTH, THE LAST OF THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS HAD ARRIVED. JOHN THE BAPTIST STANDS IN THE RIVER JORDAN SIGNIFYING THE DECISIVE TURNING POINT IN HISTORY THAT THE DAY OF SALVATION WAS AT HAND.

BUT THE ISRAELITES WERE SOMEWHAT SURPRISED WHEN THEY HEAR JOHN PREACHING A WHOLE NEW RITUAL OF BAPTISM. FOR THE JEWS BAPTISM WAS A RITUAL FOR THE GENTILES WHO WERE CONVERTING OVER TO JUDAISM.

BUT NOW, THIS LONG-AWAITED PROPHET IS SAYING THAT THIS BAPTISM IS FOR THE JEWS! THIS STARTLING REVELATION WAS DESIGNED FOR GOD’S COVENANT PEOPLE AND IT REQUIRED THEM, OF ALL PEOPLE, TO REPENT FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.

THE FORGIVENESS JOHN MEANT WAS THE KIND THAT REMOVED OR CANCELLED AN OBLIGATION OR BARRIER OF GUILT. IN OTHER WORDS, IT REFERS TO GOD’S GRACIOUS ACT WHEREBY SINS ARE SEEN AS DEBTS CANCELLED BY CHRIST’S SACRIFICIAL DEATH ON THE CROSS.

THE ISRAELITES HAD TO LEARN THAT FORGIVENESS WAS NOT GIVEN BY JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF THE RITUAL BY DUNKING THEMSELVES IN THE WATER.

WHAT THEY NEEDED TO KNOW WAS THAT BAPTISM WAS A VISIBLE WITNESS THAT THEY HAD TRULY REPENTED OF THEIR SINS AND HAD RECEIVED GOD’S GRACIOUS FORGIVENESS FOR THOSE SINS.

WE NEED TO LEARN THIS SAME LESSON FOR OURSELVES THIS CHRISTMAS. IN ORDER TO PREPARE THE WAY FOR JESUS IN OUR LIVES THIS CHRISTMAS WE MUST FIRST HAVE A CONSCIENCE AWARENESS OF OUR NEED TO REPENT AND RECEIVE GOD’S FORGIVENESS FOR ALL OUR SINS.


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