Luke 1:76-79 ESV
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Prophecies of Old
Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s son John had just been born. And then Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied concerning Jesus Christ, and then concerning his son John. [Scripture refers to him as John the Baptist.] But, Zechariah was not the first person to prophesy these words which he spoke first here concerning his son John, for they had been spoken previously by the prophets of old (Is. 40:3; Mal. 3:1).
When we read these prophecies of old, though, we realize that John was to be God’s messenger in preparing the way for God, which makes clear for us that Jesus Christ is not only the Son of God, but he is indeed God (the Son).
The four gospels all make reference to John’s call to be God’s messenger in preparing the way for Him – for the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 3:3; Matt. 11:10; Mk. 1:1-3; Lu. 1:76-79; Jn. 1:23). All of them mention that John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus (the Lord), but each one gives us a little more insight into what all that call of God entailed.
John was to be a voice crying in the wilderness, “Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” John was to be a messenger sent before Jesus Christ to prepare his way before Him. And, the way in which he was to prepare his way was that he was to give knowledge of salvation to his people in forgiveness of their sins. Thus, John’s message was always one of repentance, which had to do with the forsaking of sin and turning to the Lord to follow (obey) him the rest of our days.
Prepare His Ways
So, what are God’s ways? Basically they are that we should no longer live in bondage (addiction) to sin – in immorality, impurity, wickedness, lust, depravity, dishonesty, greed, slander, thievery, and adultery, and the like.
But, we should live (conduct our lives) in purity, honesty, integrity, faithfulness, holiness, godliness, and righteousness, etc. – all in the power and working of God’s grace and His Holy Spirit at work within our lives.
And, the other is like it in that we should love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and we should love our neighbors as ourselves. For, love does no harm to its neighbor, and love for God is obedience to his commands. So, if we love God and we love others, we won’t do all those wicked and immoral things against God and against other people, but we will do what is righteous and holy and honorable and upright.
Also, it is God’s ways that he be our only God and that Jesus be our only Savior and Lord (boss). It is his ways, thus, that we should surrender our lives over to our Lord, submit to his ways, and make him truly the boss of our lives, instead of us running our own lives our own way. For, this is what it means to walk in the fear of the Lord, which God requires for our salvation from sin and for eternal life with him (Lu. 1:50; Phil. 2:12-13).
Knowledge of Salvation
What, too, is the knowledge (understanding) of our salvation which we should be sharing with other people? For, we are all called to be the Lord’s servants and messengers in taking the gospel of our salvation to the ends of the earth. For, too, we are the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth, and we are to proclaim to the world the excellencies of Christ who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (Ac. 1:8; 1 Pet. 2:9).
Basically, it is that we are all born into this world with sin natures, separate from God, and unable in ourselves to be righteous before God and to be acceptable to him, in his sight. As well, because we have all sinned, we have death as our payment for sin, which is eternal separation from God, and which is eternal punishment in the fires of hell (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49; Rom. 3:23; 6:23).
But, that is not the end of the story. For, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth, to be born as a baby, conceived of the Holy Spirit, to suffer as we suffer, and to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He sent him to live on this earth, for a time, so that he could share in our humanity, and so that he could sympathize with our weaknesses, too.
Jesus then became the sacrifice for our sins on a cross when those who hated him without cause put him to death. Yet, it was God’s will that he should suffer in this way, for in his death he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when he died, he put our sins to death with him, and when he rose from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, Satan, death and hell, on our behalf.
But, not everyone is saved from their sins just because Jesus died and rose again. We have to each individually accept Jesus’ plan of salvation into our lives. We do this by faith, which is God-given, and which is divinely persuaded as to God’s holiness and righteousness, and as to the necessity of us being dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Thus, this faith which is required for our salvation also includes repentance (turning away from sin to God) and obedience to the Lord. This is taught all throughout the New Testament by John the Baptist, who was to prepare the way for us to receive Jesus Christ as Lord, and by Jesus, himself, and by his New Testament apostles, too.
Basically, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, if it is God-given faith, we die with Christ to sin so that we might live to Christ and to his righteousness. This is what it means to be “born again” of the Spirit of God. Our old lives of living to sin and self are put to death, and they continue to be put to death daily. We are, thus, transformed (renewed) of the Spirit of God in our hearts and minds, and we now walk in the ways of the Lord, living to please him in all that we do and are and say.
And, this faith is continuous, too. It is not a one-time event that takes place in our lives, then we are good, and then one day we get to go to heaven when we die. We have to keep believing, and we have to keep walking (living our lives) according to God’s ways and in his truth, and daily we must die to sin and self and put on Christ and his love.
For, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our flesh, we will die in our sins, no matter what prayer we prayed or what decision we think we made at one time in our lives. The scriptures are real clear on this. If we make sin our practice, we don’t have eternal life with God, but we have the expectation of the fires of hell when we die. If we don’t walk in obedience to God’s commands, same deal. If we hate others, same deal. If we sow to please the flesh and not the Spirit, same deal. We have to get this!!
Our salvation is not guaranteed us based on some past belief or some experience we once had in our lives. If we don’t continue with Christ, and if we don’t walk in purity, holiness and righteousness, and if we continue to conduct our lives in lust, immorality and wickedness, we will not see God. We don’t have eternal life with God, but hell as our future.
And, these are not my words. This is not something I made up here. And, I am not taking scriptures out of context, nor am I preaching some philosophy taught me by men. What I am sharing with you here is what the Word of God teaches book after book, and chapter after chapter, and verse after verse. So, reject my words – fine! But, if you reject God’s words – not fine! So, know the truth, believe the truth, and live the truth.
[See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66; Jn. 10:27-30; Ac. 26:16-18; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Gal. 2:20; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 2:8-10; Eph. 4:17-24; Eph. 5:3-6; Col. 1:13-14, 21-23; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 1:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9.]
Near the Cross
Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
*copyright status is public domain
Wednesday, December 19, 2018