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Synopsis 013b  The Preaching of John the Baptizer

[Matthew 3:1-3]  We have looked at some of the unifying themes used in these three stories of John the Baptizer that we’ve read.  We read about his diet of honey and locusts, as well as his raiment, which was a leather girdle and camel’s hair clothing.  He came in the power and spirit of Elijah.  He didn’t spend a lot of time preaching the message of common salvation, because that was something that was already very familiar to the Jews.  Also, in all three passages, he fulfilled the words of the prophets.  John was preparing the way; he was a light for the light.

What else did he do?  He was preaching.  He was doing a whole lot of preaching, apparently.  What was he preaching?  Matthew 3:1-2 says, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Repent ye, for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand.  We studied the Kingdom a little last week.

He was preaching, “repent!” and he was preaching and proclaiming the Kingdom of the Heavens; “The King is coming!”  That’s what he taught; that’s whom he was the forerunner of.

Even the teaching of the Kingdom was nothing new to the Jews.  But, the idea of “repent!” became a stumbling block to many.  Without behaving themselves, they weren’t going to enter in to rule and reign in the coming Kingdom.

We see that he baptized a whole bunch of people.  He baptized them unto the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.  What is the significance of this message that John proclaimed?  The Jews were familiar with baptism.  For one thing, they practiced self-imposed baptism, signifying confession of sin.  Also, it was practiced when an outsider wanted to join himself to a tribe.  But, this baptism that John came preaching was different; it was something new.

Baptism is significant if we want to rule and reign with the Lord in his coming Kingdom and glory.  Some traditions have baptism associated with salvation.  When I think about that, I am reminded that Jesus was baptized, and God almighty didn’t need to be saved, and Jesus was God in the flesh.  So, there’s a problem with associating baptism with salvation, because Jesus Christ was baptized as an example to us.

[Mark 1:15]  Here, we find a different way of saying what Matthew said.  Repentance has to do with a change of lifestyle.  You’re living in sin, so stop it!  And start living a righteous and clean life.  You can’t do that without believing the gospel.  “Believe” in this verse is present tense; continue believing.  One repentance is not enough, particularly if the sin comes back; and it usually does.  Therefore, you need to continually repent.  Continue confessing (1 John 1:9) and do what it takes to keep from doing again.  You do that through the blood.  Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin; remission means deliverance; liberty; freedom.  So, it’s essential to appropriate the blood.

And, we need to believe.  What do we need to believe?  The gospel of the Kingdom.  The Gospel of the Kingdom has to do with ruling and reigning.  This is not the same tense as that used for believing unto salvation.  You don’t have to keep on believing to stay saved.  It’s an event.  But, the Gospel of the Kingdom requires believing in the present; it requires faithfulness on our part.  Being born into the family is an event, not a process.

In John 3:3, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, and he says, “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  If you’re born into the family, you will see the Kingdom.  But, when you see others entering, you’re going to want to do the same thing.  There’s a difference between seeing and entering.  Moses didn’t get to enter, but he got to see from the top of Mt. Pisgah.  God showed him and said, “that’s what the children of the children are going to get, but you’re not going to enter in because of your sin of striking the rock”.

[Matt 7:21]  There are plenty of those in the family today that don’t care what the will of the father is and they show it because they don’t study their Bible.  If you’re not reading it regularly, you don’t care what the will of the father is.  This is not to be legalistic; the Lord understands that you can’t always read it, but it means you have an attitude of “I want to know the will of the father, so I can do the will of the father”.

If you’re not interested in reading and going to a church that teaches, then you’re not interested in knowing the will of the father.  One day, you’re going to say, “Lord, lord, I used to go to church once a week (month, year, maybe twice, once on Christmas, once on Easter); I used to go to church, what’s wrong?”  There are going to be those who say “Lord, Lord”, and he’s going to say, “Sorry, but you can’t enter.”  You can’t rule and reign with me.  That’s what entering is all about.

When you enter a football game, you don’t sit in the stands.  You play your position.  It’s the same in the Kingdom.  One day he’ll be lord of lords and king of kings and you’ll either be a king or a lord, or you will be a subject.  You’ll either serve now, or you will serve in the Kingdom.  You’re going to serve God, one way or another.  You can do it voluntarily now and be honored in his Kingdom, or he’s going to make you do it in the Kingdom and you’re going to have tears because you didn’t do it now.

Entering the Kingdom.  [Matt 5:20]  The scribes & Pharisees were saved Jews.  In fact, Paul was a Pharisee and I think Paul was saved before the Damascus experience.  I heard someone say, “If God will give me what he gave Paul, I’ll get saved right now.”  I don’t know anyone that had a witness like Paul had on the road to Damascus.  It doesn’t happen that way.  A person gets saved today by simply believing what Jesus Christ did on the cross.

[Philippians 3]  So, Paul was a Pharisee, and Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you won’t enter.”  Let’s see what that means to exceed their righteousness.  In Luke chapter 2, Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous, because they walked in all the commandments of the Lord.  In Philippians 3:5-6, Paul said, “I was a Pharisee, touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”  Paul had the righteousness of the law; he could not be charged.  He said that in Philippians!  Not back in Acts 9.  What does that mean?  Paul was just.  He was being obedient to God’s commandments.  The Scribes & Pharisees were just; but that’s all they were.  They were doing that which was their duty to do; they were just getting by.  There are children of God today that are just getting by.  That doesn’t cut it with the Lord.

Paul says in [Philippians 3:9], “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law [which Paul already had], but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”  To exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees means that you had to live a life of faith; a life pleasing God.

Did Jesus have that testimony at his Baptism?  God said, “This is my beloved son and I am well pleased with his life”.  What had Jesus done up until that point?  He had not healed one person, or preached one sermon, and had not one lesson taught.  Know what he had been doing for the last 18 years (or 30)?  He had been pleasing to mom and dad; he was pleasing God; he had died to self.  Being subject to his mother and father for 30 years, and God said, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased”.

Paul says, “What we need is the righteousness, which is by faith”.  In Galatians 2:20, he says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  Paul lived by faith.  If you live by faith, your righteousness will exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, which was the righteousness of the law.

You do have to have that righteousness.  No drunk can live by faith.  No one living in sin can live by faith.  Don’t tell me that you can live in sin and please God; you can’t.  But, you please him by being obedient and faithful.  Hebrews 10:38 says, “Now the just shall live by faith.”  Who are the just?  The Pharisees are just.  But, “Shall live by faith” describes Paul.  The Pharisees needed to live by faith and they would not do it.  They could have, but they didn’t.

“Now, the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”  The drawing back is not from being just, but from living by faith.

Paul went on in [Philippians 3:10]; that is death to self.  Paul wanted to live for the Lord, having died to self.  And the life he lived in the flesh he would live by the faith of the Son of God who loved him and had given himself for him.

The first step is repentance, and Jesus didn’t need to repent, but he was baptized to show death of self.  In Matthew 3, Jesus came to be baptized by John, and John said “I need to be baptized by you”.  Then, verse 15 says, “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered [allowed] him”.  The phrase “all righteousness” is found in only one other place in the NT, and that is in Acts 13, in the context of 8-10 which says, “But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”  The Lord had to fulfill all righteousness, and the sorcerer was called the enemy of all righteousness by Paul.

You know what the devil wants you to do?  Stop pleasing God.  The devil is the enemy of all righteousness.  He is the enemy of what Jesus Christ was trying to teach when he was baptized, and he wants to subvert the right ways of the Lord.  What are the right ways of the Lord?  Living in the narrow way; living by faith.  The devil has lit up the broad way and it’s easy to live that way; it’s enticing.  You can do whatever you feel like doing.  Repentance is not involved.  You just wander down the broad way to destruction and ruin.  It’s not hell, it’s just simply not entering the Kingdom and becoming a servant.

It’s interesting what happened in the gospels.  In [Matthew 10:5-6; saved Gentiles; lost sheep – have perished; they saw, heard, and followed, but they stopped].  Sheep see, hear, and follow, but these sheep had quit.  You can quit.  An interesting use of the word “believe” in the present tense is when Paul was saved and he was preaching in Damascus, and he came to Jerusalem, and he thought, “Boy, I’m really going to have some good fellowship with the disciples and the apostles in Jerusalem”.  Did he?  No.  They all “believed” (present, active) that he was not a disciple, and they avoided him like the plague.

That’s “believe” in the present tense.  It changes your attitude and lifestyle about something.  They didn’t want to be around Paul, because they figured if they were, then Paul would be around them with a noose or with bonds to be executed like Stephen.

But, here we find three groups:  Gentiles – saved; Samaritans – saved; Israel – saved.  Jesus is saying, don’t go tell this to the Gentiles; don’t tell this to the Samaritans; tell the gospel of the Kingdom to Israel only.  That’s not talking about the plan of salvation that God provided.  God provided the entire world with the ability to be saved.  Adam wasn’t a Jew.  Rahab wasn’t a Jew.  All those in Ninevah weren’t Jews; they were all Gentiles.  Gentiles have always been able to be saved.

But, the gospel of the Kingdom and ruling and reigning was only offered to Israel for a short time; 3 ½ years.  That was the ministry of Jesus and the 12 and the 70.  That was their message to Israel:  That they could rule and reign as kings and lords in the coming kingdom, rather than live as servants.

When you read about the gospel of the Kingdom in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it’s a message to saved people, offering them something better than an inheritance here on this earth.  He wasn’t going to lost people to tell them how to get in the family.  Otherwise, you work your way into being saved, because that’s what the gospel of the Kingdom has to do with; it has to do with works.  He tells them, as they go, “you preach, ‘the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand’”.

Then, we find something interesting happening back in [Matthew 16:19].  Peter has said, “Thou are the Christ, the son of the living God”, and Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church”, and in Matthew 16:19, he says, “I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens”.  Ah, the Kingdom has a lock on the door!

You mean there are some folks shut out?  Yes!  And they don’t have a key.  They are Gentiles and Samaritans.  Jesus said, “I’m going to give you some keys”.  Later, we find out the Jews were shut out because they wouldn’t produce the fruits thereof.  Jesus told the Pharisees, “I’m going to take the Kingdom from you and give it to someone who will produce the fruit thereof”.  (Matthew 21:43)  Fruits worthy of baptism because they had died to self.

So, Peter has the keys.  [Acts 2]  In Romans 1:16, Paul is speaking and he says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ [gospel of the Kingdom]: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth [present]; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”  The gospel of the Kingdom is also referred to as being saved, saved has to do with deliverance; to all the ones believing “to the Jew first”.]  Who did Peter preach to first in Acts 2?  He used the keys to Israel.  That’s the first time he used the keys, and it was to the Jew first.

In [Acts 2:38-39a, he says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you”.]  The gift he was talking about was the promise.

[Acts 2:39; For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off [Gentiles], even as many as the Lord our God shall call].  Remember, the Lord had taught that many were called, but few were chosen.  The calling is unto his kingdom and glory and not to get saved.  (1 Thessalonians 2:12)  If many are called to be saved, boy I sure hope I’m part of that many.  All.  He died for all; anyone can be saved.  But when it comes to the Kingdom, it’s select; it’s few.  When it comes to the foreknowledge of God, he knows who is going to live a life pleasing to Him, and even out of those many, there will be some that will fail.  Many are called unto his Kingdom and glory, but there are few that will be chosen unto that Kingdom.  (Another lesson for another time.)

So, he used the keys for the first time in Acts 2.  When did he use them again?  [Acts 8:12, 14] Peter shows up with a key ring and there was a key on there for whom?  The Samaritans.  And John was with him and [Acts 8:15,17].

There are people today who want to exercise this same gift today of laying hands on people and giving them the Holy Ghost, but what they were getting was the sealing of the Holy Spirit and these were evidences to prove that.  Not to those who received the preaching of Philip, but to Peter.  Peter was a doubter.

Remember, he doubted that Gentiles could get in.  He had been taught by the Lord that Samaritans couldn’t do it and he knew that Gentiles couldn’t do it; he was a doubter.  So, it had to be confirmed to him that Samaritans could enter the Kingdom of the Heavens.  And they received the Holy Spirt.  Notice, they were baptized even before they received the Holy Spirit.  Notice they didn’t speak in tongues.  Tongues was not an issue at this time in this place.

[Acts 10], we find Peter using the Keys again.  Who was he visiting in Acts 10?  Cornelius.  A Gentile.  He was a bum and a drunk, wasn’t he?  No, he was not.  He was a child of God through Judaism; he was a proselyte.  That’s the way a Gentile was saved:  He accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for himself.  We find in [Acts 10:22; just man].

It’s kind of funny; when Peter came down, he said, “You know, I ought not to be here, because no Jew is supposed to be in the house of a Gentile or hanging out with them”.  He said, “I don’t belong here, but I had no choice.”  But, the Lord said, don’t you call dirty what I’ve cleansed.

[Acts 10:37]  What Peter came down with was the message of the Kingdom.  He was not telling Cornelius how to be born from above; he was preaching the Kingdom.  What message did John bring?  He was preaching the Kingdom.  Peter was telling Cornelius, “Cornelius, you now have an opportunity to rule and reign with Christ; before you didn’t”.  Just like he did with the Samaritans.  He said, “You Samaritans could not rule and reign with Christ from heaven, but now you can”.

It says in [Acts 10:43] says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth (present, active) in him shall receive remission (deliverance) of sins.”   [Acts 10:44-45; “end with… which believed (before) were astonished”.]  They couldn’t believe their eyes!  “What’s going on here?!”  “What is happening to Cornelius in his house is what happened to us at Pentecost.”  “If I hadn’t seen it with my eyes, I wouldn’t have even believed Peter.”

God is careful to provide witnesses to events in the lives of his people to establish the Word of God.  Remember, it wasn’t written; it was oral.  It was given by the Holy Spirit when the Holy Spirit came upon a prophet or a preacher.

[Acts 10:45-46]  But, here we find speaking in tongues.  When we believe on the Lord as our savior, we receive the Holy Spirit.  When we believe on the gospel of the Kingdom, then, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.  I don’t have any evidences of either one, and I don’t need any.  What I have to do to please God is believe that it happened to me and accept it.  You know what that’s called?  Faith.

I read it, I believe, and I don’t have to speak in another language to prove it.  If you do what it says, you’ve got it.  If you quit doing what it says, you’re going to lose it.  That’s the Kingdom, not your salvation; you’re going to lose ruling and reigning because of sin in your life.

Now, Peter says, [Acts 10:47].  No, they could not.  So, Cornelius and his house were baptized.  No children, only adults.

Now, there’s another interesting event in [Acts 16].  This has to do with Lydia, the seller of purple.  Paul met the women down by the river [Acts 16:13-14; attended – responded].  How do I know someone is a candidate for baptism?  It’s the way they respond to the gospel of the Kingdom.  That’s what Paul did.  [Acts 16:15]  “If you’ve judged me faithful, come stay at my house.”

Paul and his entourage stayed at her house, but I want you to notice that it was the Lord who opened the heart of Lydia.  You can’t force this door open to those who are not called.  You can’t force it!  The Lord has to open it; the Lord has to be the one to call.  The Lord opened her heart and she responded to the things that Paul spoke and she was baptized and her household and there was not tongues and no laying on of hands in this incident.  This was an event.  Paul knew she had responded and he knew the others had.  You don’t need any display of tongues; you don’t need that.

I’m telling you that because I know that most of us in here, myself included, has never spoken in tongues.  I don’t want to speak in tongues.  I want to speak so you can understand me.  Speaking in tongues ministers to the flesh and I don’t want to minister to my flesh; I want to minister unto the spirit; the spirit of adoption.  I want to somply be trusting him and trusting his Word.

The same thing happened to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30-31.  And in [Acts 16:32] it says, “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord”.  Now that you’re saved, you can enter the Kingdom.  The jailer said, “That’s what I want”, just like Lydia did.  It doesn’t say that, but I know he did, because he was baptized.  Just like Lydia was baptized.  And what Lydia experienced, I believe the Philippian jailer experienced, and it had to do with his response to the gospel of the Kingdom.

There’s one other event, and that’s what Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch.  There were two things required of him to be baptized.  I want you to think about that, and we will look at that next week.