TEEN TREE        OF LIFE

THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

Part 5

October 18, 2020

 

Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

 

As we ended last week’s Teen Tree, we learned that some of the Jews, living at the time of John the Baptist, had totally rejected Judaism and adopted the Greek and Roman world view – including worshipping false gods. So, John the Baptist’s call to repent was aimed toward them. But it was also aimed toward the many people that were caught up in legalism at the time. Does that sound familiar to what’s going on today? That is why John the Baptist’s Ministry is such an important subject for us to look at.

 

John’s call to repent included the message to go back to trusting and obeying The Lord again. His goal was to get his followers to obey God and to abandon their ungodliness. LUK 1:17 (New International Reader’s Version) describes God’s Plan for John’s life: And he will prepare the way for the Lord. He will have the same spirit and power that Elijah had. He will bring peace between parents and their children. He will teach people who don’t obey to be wise and do what is right. In this way, he will prepare a people who are ready for the Lord.” John was calling them to be transformed to a changed life – just like his father Zacharias had prophesied he would. MAL 4:6 (New International Reader’s Version) describes the same radical transformation: “Elijah will bring peace between parents and their children. He will also bring peace between children and their parents. If that does not happen, I will come. And I will completely destroy the land.”

 

Repentance was not only the message of the prophets and John The Baptist; it was also the call of The Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles. Look at what Our Lord said in MATT 4:17: From that time Jesus began to [proclaim] preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Therefore, repentance should also be part of the message that we, as Christians, should be proclaiming to the world.

 

Peter concluded his sermon in ACTS 2 with a call for repentance: Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (ACTS 2:38) He did the same in ACTS 3:19 (New International Reader’s Version): So turn away from your sins. Turn to God. Then your sins will be wiped away. Peter also wrote about repentance in  2 PET 3:9: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

 

Repentance or turning away from sin is also a common theme in the Epistles. Look at what Paul wrote in ROM 2:4: Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? In 2 COR 7:9 (New International Reader’s Version), he wrote: Now I am happy. I’m not happy because you were made sad. I’m happy because your sadness led you to turn away from your sins. You became sad just as God wanted you to. So you were not hurt in any way by us. Actually, Paul proclaimed repentance from the very beginning of his ministry. In ACTS 17:30 (New International Reader’s Version), he spoke these words on Mars Hill in Athens: In the past, God didn’t judge people for what they didn’t know. But now he commands all people everywhere to turn away from their sins. Repentance is part of God’s Message to the world and so it must be included in what we proclaim!

 

Sadly, there is a lot of confusion among believers today about what repentance is. According to God’s Word, it means to change one’s thinking or to change the mind. Repentance implies a decision based on mindset, not emotion. Each of us repented at the moment of Salvation, because we changed our thinking about the Person of Christ. Repentance is a change of mind, a conversion, a turning away. Doctrinal viewpoint can change every bit of the human viewpoint we have learned. But only if we stick with learning God’s Word!

 

Some churches falsely teach that repentance is the means by which a person becomes saved. That is a lie! It is utterly contrary to the Gospel! We are not saved by our works of righteousness: He saved us. It wasn’t because of the good things we had done. It was because of his mercy. He saved us by washing away our sins. We were born again. The Holy Spirit gave us new life. (TITUS 3:5 New International Reader’s Version). And look at what ISA 64:6 emphatically states: All of us have become like someone who is “unclean.” All the good things we do are like dirty rags to you. All of us are like leaves that have dried up. Our sins sweep us away like the wind. So how could it be possible that the good things or deeds we do bring us Salvation??? And do not forget EPH 2:8-9 (New International Reader’s Version): God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it.

 

You cannot become saved by quitting sinning because each of us is born with an old sin nature. The old sin nature exists in the cell structure of the body and it will not be removed from the body until the moment of physical death. We will always be sinners. But the old sin nature has been crucified positionally in every believer. This is taught in ROM 6:6-11 (The Message Bible): Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.

 

We can sin less by making a concerted effort not to sin, but we will never be sinless. The only human being who is sinless is Our Beloved Jesus Christ. Look at 1 JOH 1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. In order to change your mind about Jesus Christ and believe the truth about Him, then you must also change your mind and believe the truth about yourself and your sinful actions and attitudes. True faith in The Lord Jesus Christ does not occur in a vacuum. You must understand and believe Who He is and what He has done. He is God in human flesh, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, willingly died on The Cross as the substitute payment for your sin and He was raised from the dead. Repentance is a change of mind that can radically transform a life.

{to be continued}

 

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