Sunday, December 6, 2015, 1:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give Me Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 3:1-10 (NASB).
Make Ready (vv. 1-3)
Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!’”
The word “repent” means “change of mind,” or to “think differently afterwards” (biblehub.com). It is used throughout scripture in reference to turning away from sin, forsaking idols, and turning to faith in God/Jesus, and to following him with our lives. It is a lot like making a U-turn in traffic. You were going one direction, and now you do an about-face, and you go the opposite direction. As well, repentance was/is required for forgiveness of sin and for eternal life with God. It is also a necessary component of saving faith. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (See: Lu. 9:23-25; 13:3; Ac. 3:19-20; 26:16-20; 2 Co. 7:10; 12:21; Eph. 4:17-24; 2 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 2:5).
We are commanded to repent (Ac. 17:30-31) because the kingdom of heaven is at hand (it is present with us). The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of our Messiah, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which began with the birth of Jesus Christ, and continued on with his earthly ministry, his death and resurrection, his ascension into heaven, the sending of his Spirit, and the life and ministry of the church (the body of Christ) on this earth. As well, the kingdom of heaven endures into Jesus Christ’s millennial kingdom reign on the earth when he returns one day to judge, to restore, and to take his bride to be with him, and then into the new heavens and the new earth, for eternity.
John was to prepare the way for Jesus’ kingdom by making ready the way of the Lord, making straight the paths of him. He did this by calling the people to repentance. John was the Lord’s servant and messenger in preparing the people’s hearts to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives. In a sense, that is the mission of all of God’s servants and witnesses, i.e. it is our mission to prepare the hearts of people to receive Christ. We do this by our life witness, by following Christ with our lives, by loving people with God’s love, and by sharing with them the gospel of salvation – the true gospel, not the diluted gospel which is absent of repentance or obedience to Christ.
So, what is the true gospel? Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin), and follow (obey) him. He said if we want to hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). Paul said that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us, and so the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit. He said if we walk in the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8). The essence of the gospel, thus, is death to sin and living to Christ’s righteousness.
In Keeping with Repentance (vv. 4-10)
Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Jesus Christ did not die a painful death on a cross just so we could escape God’s wrath, and just so we could have the promise of heaven when we die one day. His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). If we say we have fellowship with God, and yet we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin; wickedness), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). If we say we know God or that we love God, but we don’t keep (obey) his word, we are liars. We don’t really love God or know God (1 Jn. 2:3-6; 3:24).
It is not enough to just say we know God or to profess that we believe in Jesus Christ or that we mouth words in a prayer to receive Christ. Our lives must bear evidence that a true heart transformation of the Spirit of God has actually taken place – such evidence as is in keeping with repentance, i.e. which reveals that true repentance exists within the life of the professed believer in Jesus Christ. In other words, a U-turn must have happened in the life of the professed follower of Christ. We must forsake our former way of life of living in sin, be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God in spiritual birth, and we must put on our new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:16-24). This is why Jesus died – that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
Give Me Jesus
Oh, What Gladness!
An Original Work / December 2, 2013
Give me Jesus. He’s my Savior.
I’ll walk with Him in His favor.
I’ll abide in His love always;
Follow His ways to the end.
Jesus is the Son of God.
He died upon a cruel cross.
He’s forgiven all my failures
By His mercy and His love.
Give me Jesus – His compassion,
And His mercy; loving kindness.
Let Him teach me how to love Him,
And to please Him. He’s my friend.
Jesus died for all our sin
So we could have eternal life.
He will free you from your bondage
If you trust Him with your life.
Give me Jesus. Let me trust Him.
May I listen to His teachings.
May I follow where He leads me
In His service. He’s my Lord.
Jesus Christ will come again
To take His bride to be with Him.
Oh, what gladness; free from sadness
When I meet Him in the air.