Revival Under John the Baptist - Luke 3:16
The Prophecy of John-vs. 2-3
It was not unusual for a king to have a forerunner that came before him announcing his soon arrival, this man had two duties:
First, he was to make certain that the roads were passable. There were to be no delays when the king passed through. He was to have a clear, open route through the kingdom.
Second, the forerunner was let the people know that the king was coming. He was to go along the route before the king came through and he was to tell the people to get ready for the king.
John the Baptist fulfilled both duties seen in the ancient forerunner. He came to this world with a divine mission. John was given a heavenly mandate, which he fulfilled while he was here.
John the Baptist fulfilled two important Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus. These prophetic writings were written hundreds of years before John. In, fact Isaiah was written about 700 years before, and Malachi about 450 years before John the Baptist was born.
John cleared the way for the coming of the Lord by appealing directly to the people. The Jewish religious leaders had long ago forgotten the common man. John came preaching to the people, calling on them to repent because the Lord, the King was coming to deliver His people.
John was a lone voice against the dead legalism of the Jews. He was a hard preacher in a dark day and God used him to touch a generation.
(Note: John the Baptist preached during a period when the Jewish religion had become nothing more than dead orthodoxy. Legalism and ritual ruled the day. The Jews were in desperate need of a spiritual revival. The Gentiles had given up on religion and viewed most religious beliefs as superstition and foolish tales. Both groups needed just what John preached: the Truth!
We are living in similar day! Many churches have abandoned the great doctrines of the Bible to preach either a message rooted in humanism or legalism. People are either never challenged regarding their sins or they are beaten down with the Word of God.
There is a great need for men of God in our day who will stand up, open their Bibles, open their mouths and preach the Word of God. Jesus is coming soon! Where are the forerunners who are preparing the way of the Lord and proclaiming His return?
3. The Preaching of John - vs. 4-8
The wilderness...have you ever felt like you were in the wilderness? Don't feel that you are out of the Will of God when you are in the wilderness. Many of God's choicest and finest servants I spent much time in the wilderness. But note in this passage of Scripture as John is in the wilderness crying about God and proclaiming Jesus, Jesus himself shows up!
Always remember this, God knows exactly where you're at.
Hebrews 13:5 KJV 1900
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
He came telling men of the need for repentance. His message was a message of confrontation. John came confronting sin and calling on people to repent. The word "repentance" means "a change of mind that results in a change of action." The people had sinned and John called on them to change their minds regarding sin.
John was calling on them to clean up their lives in preparation for the advent of Jesus! He was saying, "The Lord is coming! The Savior is coming! You need to straighten out your crooked hearts. You need to get the way into your heart prepared for the coming of the Lord."
John's message was also a message of change. John told the people that their "repentance" would result in the "remission of sins". The word "remission" means "forgiveness or pardon of sins as though they had never happened." John told the people that their repentance would result in God's forgiveness!
A preacher from North Carolina, Alan Carr states:
(Note: That is the message we need in our world today! Where are the preachers who are preaching about repentance and remission of sin? Most preachers are too busy stroking people's egos and tickling their ears. They are too busy building their crowds, and their own religious empires.
We need men of God in this day that will lift up their voices and thunder out against sin! We need men who will not allow position, prestige, prosperity or popularity stand between them and the proclamation of the truth. We need preachers who will tell people the truth! I know how hard it is to preach the truth to the people who determine what kind of house you can buy or what kind of car you can drive, but they must be told the truth!
People need to know that the only way to Heaven is through the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. People need to know that sin kills. People need to know that there is a real Hell to shun and a real Heaven to gain. People need to know that God still looks for repentant hearts and changed lives. People need the truth!
Not everyone wants to be lulled to sleep by the weak, anemic preaching of this day! Some people still want to hear the truth. Some people still want to be confronted by the facts of the Word. Those people want to be fed. The rest, those who do not want to hear the truth, need to be confronted! There are plenty of people out there who will not hear the truth. The Bible tells us that it will be this way in the end times, 2 Tim. 4:3-4
2 Timothy 4:3-4 KJV 1900
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
John did something else that was unusual in his day, he baptized Jews. People in that part of the world had been practicing baptism for a long time. When a Gentile became a Jewish convert, that person would baptize themselves as a symbol of their changed life. Baptism was not new, but the way John used it was.
John did not baptize people to make them right with God. They were baptized because their sins have been forgiven. They went to John in the wilderness and were immersed in the River Jordan to declare publicly that their lives had been changed by the power of God.
Baptism is still a public declaration of one's salvation. People are not baptized to be saved but there baptize because they have been saved. Baptism is a picture of a person dying to the old life of sin and rising again to a new life of holiness and Christ likeness.
Everyone who comes to Jesus and is saved by his grace is a new creature. They will live a new kind of life, though have new desires, they'll be different because Jesus changes every life that he touches!
notice in verse five: "and there went out unto him all the land..." Some commentators have estimated that as many as 300,000 people may been baptized by John and his disciples. Many of these people traveled upwards to 20 miles on foot to be baptized, and when they got there John treated these religious Jews like there were Gentiles. When they were confronted with their sands, they saw their sands and they repented. When they did God forgave them.
Note-it didn't take long hearing John the Baptist preach to understand his purpose and his message. He was not there to build up his name or his reputation, John preached to point to the people to Jesus. In fact, John's messages were all about Jesus.
The message of a humble servant-vs. 7
John the Baptist was a bold preacher. He thundered out against sin and called for people to repent. But, when he began to talk about Jesus Christ, John became a very humble preacher. He tells the people who heard him preach that compared to Jesus, he was a nobody! He tells them that he isn't even worthy to do the job of the lowest household slave. John says, "I am nothing, but He is everything!" John says, "I didn't come to call people to me; I came to point people to Him!" That is a humility that is lacking in these days.
The message of a Holy Savior-vs. 8
John also told them that when Jesus came He would do a spiritual work in their hearts. You see, John was using a material element, water, to baptize their bodies. Jesus would use a spiritual element, the Holy Spirit, to baptize their souls. John was taking them and placing them under the water in a symbol of their repentance. Jesus would take them and He would wash their sins away in His blood and He would give them a new life.
John was not calling people to religion. They had enough of that. John the Baptist was pointing people to a Savior Who could save their souls, forgive their sins and change their lives.
Romans 10:13 KJV 1900
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
We are going to look into the Gospel as recorded by Luke and the third chapter.
I suppose most of us can quote John 3:16 without looking at it. How many of us can quote Luke 3:16? Its the other side of the coin, it should be as well known. Well, here it is in the good King James version.
Luke 3 verse 16: "John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" and in this version, "and with fire:" but the original says: "Holy Ghost fire." Because God is a consuming fire. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of fire. And Jesus said, "Ive come to bring fire on earth." There is no escaping fire. This is a kind of a clich of mine, but I still get a lift out of saying it, I believe that tonight the world is going to hell fire because the church has lost Holy Ghost fire, its as simple as that.
Between Malachi and Mathew you've got
Four hundred years of blackness without any prophetic light. Four hundred years of stillness without any prophetic voice. And then suddenly, dramatically, unexpectedly this strange man, John the Baptist, came streaking across a sky that was totally black. The Word says he was a "burning and a shining light." Jesus, the greatest character in history, says, "There was no man comparable to John Baptist." Not Isaiah not Jeremiah not any of those towering saints. He is a very, very remarkable character.
John the Baptist appears in the wilderness. It was not only
a wilderness geographically,
it was a wilderness morally,
it was a wilderness politically,
it was a wilderness religiously.
You see, you go back in the Scripture and you read about Ezrah and Nehemiah. They established a governership over Israel made of a hundred and twenty priests and rulers. These priests and elders ruled over Israel. Four hundred and fifty years they dominated that nation. I say: this was a jungle, theologically.
In 170 BC there was a man with the strange name of Antiochus Epiphanes. You need to look up his name and his relatives. He took over Jerusalem, he polluted the temple, he made the Jews sacrifice to idols, he built a statue of Jupiter where the the altar of the burnt offering should have been. He burnt the Scriptures publicly. He prohibited the worship of Jehovah. And all this horrendous stuff went on. In 37 BC came Herod the Great. He betrayed the nation to the Romans, he fostered immorality, he massacred the noble people, he built that magnificent temple that was standing.
Now with this horrendous background of murder and rape and debauchery and suffering and agony, John Baptist steps on the stage. A remarkable character.
You see, today we try to organize. We try to get a bunch of people together. God never did that. God takes individual men. He takes Moses to the backside of the desert. John the Baptist was in the wilderness until the day of his showing forth.
Jesus, the Son of God who had left the Glory, spent thirty years in training
John Baptist thirty years in training.
The apostle Paul at least thirty years.
Moses at least forty years;
and we want to go to Bible School six months and come out like a super prophet! Its the time factor that kills most of us. Tell me how much time you spend alone with God and I will tell you how spiritual you are.
Not how many meetings you go to.
Not how many gifts you have.
Not how many sermons you preach.
Not how many records you've made.
Tell me what time you spend alone with God... and I'll tell you how spiritual you are.
The Word here tells me about this remarkable man, John the Baptist, that he was in the wilderness until the day of his showing forth. Going forth at the command of God Himself, of course.
He was in the wilderness, of all places. It says he had his dwelling among wild beasts, ferocious things. The remarkable thing to me, as I read this again today, is this: he had no role model. Elisha had Elijah. Joshua had Moses as a role model. Timothy had Paul as a super model in front of him. And right through the Scripture you find these men that have lived with some giant and they've become like him. But this man has no model before him. What did he do wandering on the rocks? "He ate wild honey," it says. And he was with wild beasts and he was a wild man.
Luke chapter 3 gives you a kind of run down on the awesomness of this mans ministry. Look this first verse.
"the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Ceasar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip the tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests,"
Thats about as refreshing as a mouth full of sand, isnt it? What in the world do you do with it? Except it gives you a framework. "Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests," thats illegal. They could only have one high priest and they got two. Then came "John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Boy, thats a dirty thing to preach these days. Who preaches repentance? There is an old hymn that says, Repentance is "
to leave the sins Ive done before,
and show that I in earnest grieve,
by doing them no more."
Repentance is more than saying, "Im sorry." Repentance is mental. Its something in my mind, Im going this way and I turn that way. When Im going this way Im saying,
"God is in the wrong and I am in the right."
When I turn around I say,
"God is in the right, if He sends me to hell He is in the right."
That is repentance. Its not just repenting for the sin Ive done, its repenting about the motive that made me do the sin. Its going past the fruit to the root because if the root of corruption is there, there is going to be fruit coming out that is wrong. Romans 6 talks about having your fruit unto Holiness and its talking there to regenerate people, not people that claim to be filled by the Holy Ghost.
John goes out, stands and ministers there. And they come to him. He is a success any way you count it. Geographically - they come from the North and South and East and West. He is a success socially. They came from all levels of society. . He said to the multitude that came to be baptized, "you generation of vipers." Isnt that pleasant? Do you know anybody whod dare stand up in the First Baptist or the Last Baptist Church tomorrow morning and say, "You generation of vipers. Im sick of talking to you." Uh? They would sure take a love offering for him, wouldnt they? To get him out of town! "Oh generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" He was not only condemning their sin, he was saying, "there is a gate, and when you get through it, it is eternal wrath from God."
We have forgotten about the wrath of God. A friend saw a bumper sticker and you know what it said on it? "Jesus is coming and He is as mad as hell." Sacrilege? No. II Thessalonians 1 says, He is coming in flaming fire in judgment on this world. In other words, Hes as mad as hell. May be it is a bad way of putting it, but its the truth. You see, we are all looking for "gentle Jesus meek and mild." The attitude of the average Christian today is relax and be raptured. But He is coming with flaming vengeance on this world. There is a time when His Spirits forbearance runs out. There is going to be a day of the vengeance of God. And when God gets angry youve no idea what it is. Like a thousand volcanoes exploding. He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world
and the poor blind world doesnt know much about it,
and the poor blind church doesnt think much about it now.
Let me look at this in Exodus 32. "Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle the cloudy pillar descended." It was a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.
If you were in London going past where the queen lives and somebody says, "The queen is at home," you would wonder how does he know. Well, because when she is at home the flag is flying, when she is not at home its not there. I believe the sign of Gods presence in a sanctuary is the pillar of fire. Its the living vibration of an Eternal God who stands in the midst and does something you cant explain. God is beyond definition. I cannot explain Him. I can experience Him. I know when He touches me as I am alone in the night, two or three oclock in the morning. I know when His Living Presence comes into my office in a special wave of anointing.
But notice He did not come until they went outside the camp!!
There are very, very, few occasions when God Almighty has revived dead denominations. The men who stirred their generations had to go outside the camp. Doesnt it say in Hebrews 13:12 that
He went outside the camp?! Thats fine, but when it comes to verse 13
you go outside the camp and bear His reproach. Maybe before long God will bring a cleavage somewhere in this city, I hope He does. And you will have to get outside of the camp. You will have to leave your group, and you will have to go join a people who have the anointing of God. They may be poor, and have no stained glass window, and beautiful choir...
I am impressed with this, you may not be, but I am. Verse 9: "It came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle.... And all the people saw the cloudy pillar." Wouldnt it be wonderful...? Imagine if you could answer your child as one of those Israeli mothers would. Her little boy wakes up at night and says,
"Mommy, sometimes I think of those days we were in Egypt, I think about that terrible journey we made and I wonder whats going to happen." She puts her arms around him and says, "Darling, you see that? That pillar of fire over there? Thats the holy place. Our Holy God brands it with His presence of fire."
Doesnt it say in Hebrews that God makes His Angels ministering Spirits, and His ministers flames of fire? Weve got snowmen in the pulpits with icicles hanging all around. If ever the fire comes therell be some melting!
I say again, this man John Baptist has no pattern before him. I believe this man walked up and down amongst the wild beasts, and there he is, he doesnt eat much. Some big flies, you know, a bit bigger than these horrible things that eat my garden up, grasshoppers. Big, big things, he caught them, put them on a rock and roasted them. Three times a day he had locust burgers. Nothing else to eat except locusts and wild honey. And yet the people come near to hear him. Ill say it again, for my comfort if not yours: You never have to advertise a fire. Whether its spiritual or a physical fire. The most self advertising thing in this world is a fire.
I remember getting home between one and two oclocka morning in England. I said to my wife, "Sweetheart, one of the big mills in town is on fire, lets go. Its nearly two oclock, therell be nobody there." Everyone in the city woke up with the same idea, so they all went. We couldnt get within three blocks of the place. I said, "Sweetheart, well go round..." We went around in our little car, you know, those tiny little things. Well, we got half way down the street it was so fierce we could not even stand there, the fire was so terrible in its majesty. This huge mill burning.
I wonder how many of us have really seen a man who is on fire for God.
When the Holy Ghost came in the upper room, how did He come? Did He come as a dove? -- When Jesus received His baptism the Spirit came as a dove upon Him. There was nothing in Him to purify. He comes to us in fire because we need purification. I remember a night in Gillingham, east of London. We rented a church. Ill tell you who came, if youve read "Gods Smuggler," he talks in there about a man called Uncle Hoppy. Well, Uncle Hoppy "hopped" in the meeting that day.
He came in the most broken down automobile Ive ever seen. He was nuts, pardon the phrase, but he was sanctified nuts. He came in clothes that were almost worn out. He bought all his clothes at the Salvation Army. This old car came wheezing up the street, rheumatism in all the wheels and asthma in the motor. It was sobbing and groaning as it came up the hill... but he was giving thousands of dollars away to missions!
He stayed with us for a half night of prayer.
Ill never forget that night of prayer. There were surgings of blessings. There were times when God so came in power, I was afraid to open my eyes. We started praying at nine oclock. Between one and two in the morning we were going out. There was an old lady at the back, sitting in a wheel-chair; a white-haired lady. "Oh, brother," she said, (she didnt know any of our names,) "Wasnt it wonderful!" I said, "It was." "One of the best... Ive been in many prayer meetings, this was one of the greatest, most powerful. Wasnt it wonderful?" I said, "Sure, I said that." "Did you feel anything different about one oclock?" I said, "Yes, I felt a hand or something came I felt a quickening in my spirit." "It was just then." "Just then what?" "You didnt see it?" "No, no, I was with my head down praying." She said, "A tongue of fire came down on the head of the first, went to the next, went to the next, went to the next, right to the end. It was awesome." No wonder everyone of us felt a wonderful insurge of the Life of God... Or the power of God, define it as you will.
You see, there is a great deal of difference between revival and evangelism. I am so sick to death, I hardly read any reports of meetings that come to me. Everybody is getting half of America saved. If you add all the lists of people saved, everybody in America, the whole population has been saved and filled with the Holy Ghost about six times over in the last ten years. And yet we are as dumb and as dead and as damned as we were when we started off.
You want to know what preaching is? Study this third chapter in the Gospel of Luke, and when youve read that read the twenty-sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles where Paul is standing before a heathen king in a pagan court and says, "God called me to preach." And He summarizes what preaching is:
its to open the eyes of the blind,
to turn them from darkness to light,
from the power of Satan unto God,
that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified.
People come to the altar, yes, but meet them at the door and ask what happened. "Oh, ah, ah, ah, ah. I confessed my sins." There is not one evangelist in fifty in America today preaching salvation. They are preaching forgiveness. "Just come and get forgiven." That is not salvation. Jesus came to do more than forgive us our sins. He came for something more,
He came to rescue us from hell,
He came to rescue us from sin and sinning.
Not just our past sin, but to stop this damnable business that makes God so sad. "He that is born of God does not" N-O-T "does not commit sin." You say its impossible not to sin. It is possible for us not to sin.
What happened when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost? What does it say? They were pricked in their hearts. After that Stephen preached. And when he preached the same thing happened. Peter on the day of Pentecost says to the men he had ran away from: "You crucified the Lord of Glory. You killed Him." Stephen says, "You murdered the son of God."
That is preaching.
When Nathan the prophet went to David, he didnt say, "You know, some of you are guilty." Did he? He said, "Thou art the man!"
Oh, people say, "Id love to go to a Holy Ghost church." Would you? Will you love to hear somebody say, "Hey fellow, listen, last night you committed adultery. You embezzled some money this week. Youve got a spirit of hatred which God says is as bad as committing murder?" Again, Jesus came not to save us just from sins, but from sinning. When they heard these men, they were pricked in their hearts.
I go back into the third chapter, verse 7, he says, "Oh, generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruit meat for repentance." And quit saying "we have Abraham to our father." Isnt this nice. He called them vipers and now he says, "God can do as much through stones as through Abraham. Dont boast of Abraham; if God wants Hell turn those stones into children to worship Him." Thats pretty much exhausting their theology, isnt it? In verse 9 he says, "The ax is laid unto the root of the trees, every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him," He didnt ask them! They were so conscious of guilt, they felt as though they had some serpent or scorpion stinging them. They didnt dare look back because of their sins. They didnt dare look forward because of judgment. They didnt dare look round about them, somebody might come pouncing on them. And so they cried out.
This is revival!
Its not singing some sentimental chorus, then giving the invitation: "Would you like to come? Jesus is waiting, wringing His hands in heaven, He would be so upset if you dont come." Jesus doesnt care a hill of beans whether you come or not. Hes done everything He can do for you. You have to do the rest. He is not going to whip you into submission. He is not going to demand, though you sing, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." Its on your side to do it. But notice who they were.
Verse 10 The people asked him, "What shall we do?"
Verse 12, "Then came also the publicans to be baptized, and said unto him,
Master, what shall we do?"
Verse 14 the soldiers, they were Romans, they lived in a pagan society,
theyd never seen a man on fire for God. Theyd never seen a priest
who didnt care a bit about his trimmings.
Remember how this man was born. His father Zacharias went into the temple and as he got there to the altar, there was an angel on the right side And he says to him, "Fear not your wife is going to bear a son." And God does a miracle to raise that child up. Zacharias did this once in his life only. There is a line behind him of at least two thousand priests, all waiting for the one time in their life when theyll go in long white garment and enter into the Holy Place. Which is awesome. When he gets in there, theres a marvelous person by the name of Gabriel: "Fear not. I have a message from God for you."
If you havent had it, if you walk with God, one day you will go to a meeting and youll think God Almighty is talking to nobody in that congregation but you. Why is He singling me out?
Because you have the ears to hear which you didnt have before. Because you have a hunger for God you never had before.