Summary: The difference between following John and following Jesus

Sermon: Repentance is not enough

Story: "In Kentucky there were two farmers who owned racing stables – and these men were great rivals.

One spring, both of them entered a horse in a local steeplechase.

One of the farmers hired a professional jockey thinking that this might just give him an edge.

The race started – and at the last fence the horses of the two farmers were leading the race.

But it proved too tough for them and both horses fell, unseating their riders.

But this didn’t stop the professional jockey.

He quickly remounted and won the race.

Returning triumphant to the paddock, the jockey found the farmer who had hired him fuming with rage.

"What’s the matter?" the jockey asked. "I won, didn’t I?"

"Oh, yes," roared the farmer. "You won all right, but, you fool, you won the race riding the wrong horse."

In our reading from the book of Acts today, St Paul comes across a dozen believers who are on the wrong horse

They are followers of John the Baptist and not followers of Jesus – the one whom John the Baptist pointed to.

They have been baptised into the baptism of John and not into the baptism of Jesus in the Holy Spirit

Story: I took the funeral of a lady recently and asked her family if she was a Christian.

Her husband said: ”Yes she was”.

I probed further and asked if she went to Church – or read her Bible.

“No” was the reply. “But she went to Sunday school 60 years earlier.”

Some people think they are a Christians because they are nice people.

Others think they are Christians because they have gone through a Christian ritual like infant baptism

Others think it is enough to say they are sorry for what they have done wrong

But the key to being a Christian requires us to turn away FROM our sins AND turn TO Jesus.

When Paul arrived in Ephesus he came across a group of men who followed the teaching of John the Baptist.

They were baptised followers of John – just like Apollos in the earlier chapter had been.

But following John was not enough.

Although John pointed to Jesus – and they knew ABOUT Jesus, they didn’t know Him

Illustration: English is a poor language in this respect.

In German you have the word wissen – to know a fact.

And they have the word kennen to know a person

The followers of John knew about Jesus (wissen) and Paul brought them on to know Jesus as a person (kennen)

There is a huge difference between the baptism of John the Baptist and the baptism of

Jesus Christ.

The baptism of John was one of repentance.

People come to a point where they realize that they have done wrong and they wanted to make a change. But that alone does not make you a Christian

They were sorry for living the way they had lived and instead wanted to live morally righteous lives.

That’s repentance, a turning away from something. That’s good but that’s not enough.

That’s only part of the process.

A morally good atheist could live that way – and he’d not call himself a Christian

We are truly Christians

i) when we turn to Jesus Christ,

ii) when we seek His forgiveness for our sins and

iii) when we decide to follow Him as Lord and Master come what may.

That is the baptism of Jesus Christ.

Jesus himself said “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24)

Belief in the days when John wrote was more than simply an intellectual assent to a proposition – say that God exists

Belief in St John’s day meant actually following the teaching of the person believed in

If you believed in Socrates you followed his teaching in your life

Good works and changed lifestyles do not make a person a Christian

They should be the result of BEING a Christian.

Just as the chicken hatches out of the egg

But there is a second aspect to following Jesus

God himself – in the Holy Spirit comes to live in us.

In other words when we receive the Holy Spirit in our lives

In our reading today Luke records: ~ 6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19:6)

When we become Christian the Holy Spirit comes to live in our lives.

That’s why all of you Christians here today are referred to by St Paul as “saints”

The Scriptures say this:

13By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. (1 John 4:13)

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