John the Baptist was not nearly so impressed with the value of Jewish lineage as are the modern day premillenial Dispensationalists.  One can just imagine the scene if John stood in one of these churches where the name of Israel is more sacred than the name of God, and warned them that no man should presume to have confidence because Abraham was his father.  Immediately they would rise in indignation, declaring that he was cursing Israel, and therefore God would curse him.  Yet this man was the Forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I hold his doctrine in every whit to be true.  God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation He grants mercy to those who seek Him with a true heart, be they Jew or Gentile.  To the wicked and unbelieving, there can be nothing but wrath from on high.  For example, adultery committed by a Jew is not somehow less culpable than adultery by a Gentile.  Idolatry by a Jew was in many ways more contemptible than that committed by the Gentiles, because they had the light of God’s law, which the Gentiles lacked.  It is always a privilege, but also a dread responsibility, to have the light of truth.  The condemnation of those who had the truth, yet rejected it, is always greater than that of those who walked in lawlessness because they never had the truth to begin with.

This was John’s message to the Pharisees and Sadducees.  These two groups had dominated religion in Israel for a long time, but now that the Forerunner, and then the Lord, were coming, their stranglehold was about to be broken.  They placed much confidence in the flesh, thinking that they were inheritors of God’s kingdom because of their racial heritage.  The apostle John would have us know that the sons of God were born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  It was necessary, in order for religion in Israel to be purified, that these legalistic, self-righteous leaders be challenged on their own turf, and exposed as the hypocrites they were.  There is no favor with God for the unbelieving Jew simply because he is a son of Abraham.  God can raise up Jews out of the stone on the ground, and those stones would probably be less hard than the hearts of these unbelieving men.  Except one repents, and proves the validity of his repentance by bringing forth the proper fruits, he has no part in the kingdom of God.  Beyond that, he has no part in the ordinance of baptism.  This is a key issue, because so much ignored by most of professing Christendom.  John the Baptist would not baptize those whose profession was not matched by a corresponding change in life.  These Pharisees and Sadducees must give up their hypocritical ways, and manifest true humility if they were to be fit candidates for baptism.  Religious orthodoxy availed nothing with John, and nor should it for us.  If one comes to us seeking baptism, whose ungodly course of life has seen no change whatsoever, then he should be roundly rejected.  We dare not compromise God’s sacred institution in order to placate a generation of vipers.

Having preached the baptism of repentance, John did not fail to preach Jesus Christ.  Everything that we say to men, as Gospel ministers, must center around Him Whose person and work is the gospel.  John taught that Christ would soon be on the scene, and that He was the giver of a baptism of far greater value than water baptism.  This does not mean that water baptism was to be dispensed with; however, we do see here that being baptized by the Holy Ghost and fire is more necessary than immersion in water.  The latter can be undergone by one who is still an unbeliever at heart.  But one cannot undergo baptism by the Holy Ghost without being transformed into a new creature.  Those who partake of this baptism must be gathered up into the garner with the wheat, and escape the torments of fire unquenchable.  Therefore it ought to be sought diligently, with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

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