REVIVAL LESSON 8 - Luke 3:2-3, 7-8, 16 - John the Baptist and the Fire of God
LAST WEEK: Last week we concluded our study of OT revivals in Joel 2:12-17 and learned how it applies to the urgent need for revival of us 21st Century Christians and the churches we represent. In a nutshell, we discovered that this ancient prophecy issues a fresh warning to you and me that the "Day of the LORD-a term for the second coming of Jesus Christ in the end times-could happen a lot sooner than we think and tells us that the right time for getting on our knees and seeking God's face for personal spiritual revival and corporate revival as a church, is RIGHT NOW! This warning comes as a challenge to you and me. So, the big question is this: are you ready to seek spiritual revival now as an individual believer and as a member of this church? God is waiting to hear from you.
THIS WEEK: We move to the NT in the gospel of Luke, chapter 3. I imagine that you're already familiar with the story of John the Baptist as the "forerunner" of Jesus Christ, but you probably haven't considered it from the perspective of modern revival. But the reality is that nothing has changed in 2,000 years: we still serve the same God, and our unchanging God is still the only One who can bring revival to you and me individually and as a body of believers in God's church.
Read Luke 3:2b-3 - A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS
2b the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
v. 2b: "the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness" - The word of God had not been heard for 400 years-400 years of blackness, without any prophetic light. Then all of a sudden this strange-looking revivalist, John the Baptist, appears out of nowhere in the "wilderness." At that particular time in history (29-30 A.D.), wilderness was an accurate description of what had once been the kingdom of Israel: a wilderness morally, a wilderness politically, and a wilderness spiritually. Does this seem to bear similarity to the United States of America we see in the year 2020?
Observation: This is an object lesson in how God brings revival. We tend to organize, get people together for meetings, the more the better, but God doesn't do it that way. God takes individuals, prepares them (for 30 years in John's case), and then turns them loose in the wilderness (can we agree that America is a spiritual wilderness, yes?). Are you in a spiritual wilderness right now, I mean, aimless and wandering, seeking direction? Do you want to know if you are or aren't? The answer depends on how much time you're spending alone with God. I can tell you this: If you're spending little to no time with God alone, then you are definitely in a spiritual wilderness and wandering "to and fro" without any real sense of spiritual direction.
v. 3: "And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;" - Now, for us, in today's context, this message is directed at believing Christians-those who regularly get in their cars on Sunday mornings and drive to church. It's what they do. John's message-preaching repentance so you can be forgiven of your sins-Isn't the popular, "feel-good about yourself" message that a lot of Christians want to hear today. I mean, a preacher who points the finger of repentance at a room full of saved Christians is running the risk of losing his job.
Note: We'll skip vv. 4-6, which is a quotation from Isa. 40:3-6 about the "forerunner" of the Messiah.
Read Luke 3:7-8a - WHAT JOHN THE BAPTIST SAID TO THE CROWDS
7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance..."
v. 7a: "So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers' - The crowd that gathered to hear John preach was enormous, probably numbering in the thousands. Notice how he began his message: He called them a "brood of vipers," which, in context, was the same as calling them children of the serpent who tempted Eve in the garden-Satan.
v. 7b: "who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" - Sometimes it seems like modern Christians have forgotten about the wrath of God. We like to think of Jesus as "meek and gentle" fellow (2 Cor. 10:1) but carelessly forget that "the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thess. 1:7b-8). And the average Christian's might respond to that by saying, "I don't need to worry about that because I'll be raptured before it happens. Any Christian who thinks this way is smack in the middle of a spiritual wilderness and desperately needs to repent. It speaks of utter indifference toward the billions of lost souls who will face that final judgment.
v. 8: "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance" - Now John is talking about the result of true and honest repentance that brings real revival: God's Holy Spirit working through you and me. It will be evidenced by our fruits, which we can further define as any number of good works that are done out of selfless love for others (Titus 3:14). The word "bear" (Gk. poiēsate) is a present tense active imperative verb that means to keep on bearing. So, as long as we Christians are living and breathing on this earth we are duty bound to keep on bearing fruit in the form of good works for the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, ask yourself if you're actively doing things individually and/or as part of this church that demonstrate a fruitful life? Do you see yourself as generous in the giving of your time, talent, and resources for the glory of God? God certainly appreciates what you did yesterday, but what are you doing today, and what do have planned for tomorrow?
Summary of skipped verses: After John forcefully exhorted the huge crowd facing him to repent of their sins, v. 10 indicates that they asked him "what then must we do?" and John, in vv. 11-14, basically told them that they must completely change their moral character and actions in a way that demonstrated the "fruits" mentioned in v. 8, e.g., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, and faithfulness. For these folks, after 400 years of silence and moral decline, these requirements represented a radical change. Finally, in v. 15, when they asked John if he was the promised Messiah, he answered them the next verse. Are you ready to hear his answer?
Read Luke 3:16 - HE WILL BAPTIZE YOU WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND FIRE
16 John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
v. 16a: John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals" - I'd be willing to bet that most of you can quote John 3:16 without looking it up, but what about Luke 3:16? It's the other side of the coin and ought to be just as well known. In this part of the verse, John lays out the blueprint for this revival: (1) the "One...coming who is mightier"-Jesus Christ is the Reviver; (2) "John" is the Revivalist; and (3) "you"-the gathered crowd are the Revived. For revival to truly happen to you, me, and the rest of our church, this blueprint must be followed. There's no other way. In John's scenario, the revived-this huge crowd, which included the hated tax collectors and soldiers, were under conviction and ready to repent and seek forgiveness of their sins. If you and I, the revived, want revival to come, we must follow the example of this crowd, and it doesn't matter if you've been in church since you were a baby. You must humble yourself, repent, and seek forgiveness.
v. 16b: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" - As saved Christians, before we can correctly understand the application of this part of the verse-to us, we need to examine how it should be interpreted. The best contemporary authorities on this (D.T.S., Southwestern Bapt. Th. Sem., Southern Th. Sem.) interpret the words "Holy Spirit and fire" as one thing, not separate workings. Therefore, when we accept Jesus Christ alone by faith alone, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and fire, and some preachers even refer to it as the "Holy Spirit fire." The fire represents the cleansing power of the Spirit at both the moment of salvation and its continued working in our lives.
"if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
2 Chron. 7:14.
(1) If you humble yourself: This a voluntary action by which you acknowledge and confess God's headship in your life and admit your own weakness and powerlessness with respect to God's sovereign authority and control of all things;
(2) If you pray: Heartfelt prayer is the essential ingredient that can make spiritual revival a reality. Bu doing this, we come before God to ask for the help that only He can provide, for both ourselves, individually, and for our church, as a body.
(3) If you seek God's face: This goes hand-and-in-hand on how we should approach God with our prayers. Its means we remove all distractions, whether physical or mental, in order to be alone with God, face-to-face. God becomes our first priority to the exclusion of everything and everybody else. We do everything in our power to show God He is our number one priority.
(4) If you turn from your wicked ways: This describes repentance. As mentioned earlier, true repentance involves a lot more than simply being sorry you sinned. True repentance means (a) conviction-knowing and admitting God is right and you are wrong, according to His Word. True repentance mean (b) contrition-that you're not only ashamed of your sin but truly sorry that you grieved God. True repentance means (c) change-that you will put away this sin with a change of attitude, character, and behavior.
(1) God will hear you: when you seek God's face in all humility, unhindered by unconfessed sin, your prayers flow directly to God's throne and are heard.
(2) God will forgive your sin: for a saved Christian, this means your sin is blotted out and fellowship with God is completely restored.
(3) God will heal you: for a saved Christian, this means God will use His Holy Spirit to empower you in the work you plan to accomplish for His glory and Honor. To do this, He will re-light your Holy Spirit Fire! And if such personal revival spreads through the entire church, who knows how far it may go?
ARE YOU WILLING TO DO THIS...PREPARE YOURSELF TO MEET GOD FACE-TO-FACE?
PLEASE PRAY WITH ME: Lord God, I pray that anyone watching this video today will stop whatever they're doing and pray with me right now. I pray, father, that whoever they are, they will seriously and honestly think about whether or they are wandering around in a spiritual wilderness like so many other Christians today. I pray, God, that they will seriously consider the amount of time they're spending alone with you every day. And I pray, Father, that they will discover that You're still there and have been there all this time patiently waiting to lead them out of their spiritual wilderness. Lord, for weeks now, we've heard a lot of preaching and teaching about revival. If we've learned one thing, it's that personal spiritual revival can only come from You and that we are powerless to make it happen by ourselves. And Your perfect Word, Lord, clearly shows us what we need to do in order to experience it: (1) we need to come to Your mighty throne with a humble attitude that admits we can't but You can; (2) we need to consciously focus all of our thoughts on you in prayer and ask You for the help that only You can give; (3) we need to turn off the TV, turn off our cell phones, lock the doors, and seek Your face in the privacy of our minds and make You our number one priority; and (4) because every single one of us is a imperfect sinner, we need to repent of all of our sin, even the unintentional sins when we slip and the secret sins that only You know about. I pray, O God, that you will convict every person listening of his or her need for personal spiritual revival. O Lord, I pray that You will take them out of the wilderness and re-light their Holy Spirit fire, and I pray that the fire of Your Spirit will spread all through our church. I pray for Your deliverance in the name of Jesus, AMEN.