True Repentance Luke Lesson #6 Luke 3:7-18 January 10, 2021

Lesson Resouces:

Download Lesson Here

Subject: Repentance

Central Theme: True Repentance

Objective Statement: True repentance can be identified observing three themes in John the Baptist’s preaching.

Keyword:Traits

Theme #1- Recognition

Theme #2- Rejection

Theme #3- Regeneration

 

INTRODUCTION:

CONNECTION:

  • The final eruption of Mount St. Helens in May of 1980 was not a sudden event.
  • For two months prior to the massive blast—the most deadly and destructive in American history—earthquakes and volcanic activity signaled a major event was underway. Authorities had plenty of time to sound the alarm and warn those living nearby of the looming danger.
  • Yet despite the seriousness of the threat, some people chose to disregard the warnings.
  • Probably the best known of those who refused to evacuate was Harry Randall Truman. The eighty-three year old man was the owner and caretaker at the Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake. He had survived the sinking of his troop ship by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland during World War I, and he was not about to leave just because scientists thought there was danger. Truman told reporters, “I don’t have any idea whether it will blow. But I don’t believe it to the point that I’m going to pack up.” On May 18, 1980, Truman and his lodge were buried beneath 150 feet of mud and debris from the volcanic eruption. (Thompson, 2021)

TENSION:

  • Today we are going to look at the message and ministry of John the Baptist as He is described in Luke 3.
  • John’s mission was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah.
  • John’s preaching and teaching are described here.  This is not a recording of one message that he taught.
  • This is a sampling of the themes of the message of John.
  • You can see in verse 4 that Luke helps us to understand that Isaiah predicted the coming, the message, and the mission of John the Baptist, this voice in the wilderness.
  • What was that message and mission?
    • John was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah.
  • How were the people to prepare?
  • The answer is repentance!
  • And in a real sense His message was a
  • It was a warning to the people of what happens to those who do not genuinely repent, and who miss out on who Jesus really is.
  • John’s message is the message that I want to teach today.
  • Today’s message is a warning. It is a call to repentance.
  • In a real sense we must understand what true repentance is, because the implications of not understanding true repentance can me the difference between eternal life and eternal damnation. Heaven and Hell.

WE CAN KNOW WHAT TRUE REPENTANCE IS BY OBSERVING THREE THEMES IN JOHN’S PREACHING.

THEME #1- RECOGNITION 

As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  (5)  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;  (6)  And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.  Luke 3:4-6

 

Explanation:

  • It is described here starting in verse 4-6.
  • For repentance to happen there must be a recognition and a turning from personal sin.

A.    RECOGNITION OF PERSONAL SIN.

  • Like a king sending people ahead to make the journey easier for him travel, John was coming to do the same thing in the hearts of the people to ready them for Jesus.
  • There are topographical metaphors to speak to matters of the inner person.
    • The crooked path is made straight.
      • Preparing people’s hearts means straightening out what is crooked in them.
    • The valley shall be filled.
      • The low and base things of the heart are brought up.
    • The mountain shall be brought low.
      • The high and prideful things of the heart must be brought low.
    • The rough ways shall be made smooth.
      • Anything in the way of God coming and working in the heart, or any sin that is loved and keeps people from turning to Christ must be abandoned.

Application:

  • There is no salvation without a recognition of personal sin and repentance.
  • If the heart is not prepared to acknowledge and turn from sin then they are not ready to accept Christ as their Savior.
  • What did Jesus came to save us from?
    • He came to save us from our sin and its’ consequences.
    • Sin is the obstacle to heaven.
    • It is the obstacle to a right relationship with God.
    • It is also the obstacle to repentance.
      • Often, people do not want to repent because they love their sin.
      • We can make church as “cool” as we can, and I’m certainly not voting that we strive to be irrelevant.  But no matter how “cool” you make things, if you preach the Gospel it will be rejected by some people, because to preach the Gospel you must preach repentance of sin.
    • Is there a sin keeping you from believing in Christ? Is there a sin keeping you from fellowship with Christ?
    • Repentance is the answer.  Turning from your sin to Christ by faith is the answer.

B.     RECOGNITION OF DIVINE WRATH. VS. 7, 9, 17 

Explanation:

  • One of John’s other themes, that is in keeping with the message of true repentance, is the theological concept of Divine Wrath.
  • In verse 7 he calls at least part of the people coming out to see him and hear his message “vipers”.

Luke 3:7  Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

  • Like a bunch of snakes that have heard about and fear calamity coming and slithering away, John compares the people coming to see him as people not as interested in true repentance but in people who do not want to be hurt.
  • There is wrath that is going to come.  John speaks of it again in verse 9.

 Luke 3:9  And now also the axe 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.

  • The trees that are not producing the right fruit (a reference to verse 8 which we will talk about later) will face judgement.
  • They will be cut at the root, permanently killed, and cast into the fire.  If you cut off a limb, the tree can survive. If you cut the tree at its root and throw it in the fire, the tree is destroyed.
  • Fire, picture of judgment, is referred to again in verse 17.

Luke 3:17  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

  • John is describing Jesus, the coming Christ, as one that will “throughly purge his floor”.
  • There is a reference to a threshing floor.
    • Farmers would “thresh” the wheat.
      • They would take a “winnowing fork” and throw the wheat in the air.
      • The grain would be separated from the chaff.
      • The grain could be used by the farmer.
      • The chaff could not be used and would be burned.
      • The coming of the Messiah and the response to Him would separate those who were saved because they repented and believed from those who did not repent and believe and will spend eternity separated from God.
    • John was not preaching a salvation of works.
    • What he was preaching is that true repentance and salvation will transform the heart and therefore effect the hands and feet.
    • More on that in the coming text.

Application:

  • The Bible is clear that there is a heaven and a hell.
  • There is an eternity with God and an eternity separated from God in Hell.  We ought not to talk of hell without a tear in our eye and a burden on our heart.
  • Every faithful preacher of the Gospel must talk about hell.
  • Jesus’ teaching on hell covers more of the gospels than His teaching on heaven.
  • When we understand that those who do not repent and believe in Jesus will spend an eternity separated from God in Hell it should send us to our knees.
    • First, it should cause us to respond in repentance and calling on the Lord for salvation ourselves.
    • Second, it should cause us to pray for the lost and tell them about the salvation that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Response:

  • Do you know Christ as your Savior?
    • Have you repented of your sin and trusted Christ by faith?
  • Is there someone you need to warn this week?  Today?
    • Like John in the Wilderness, we must point people to the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

WE CAN KNOW WHAT TRUE REPENTANCE IS BY OBSERVING THREE THEMES.

 

THEME #1- RECOGNITION

THEME #2- REJECTION

Explanation:

A.    REJECTION OF RELGIOUS RITUAL

  • Repentance necessitates a rejection of religious ritual as something that we depend upon for salvation.
  • John was experiencing a certain segment of people coming to see him to be baptized.
  • John’s baptism is somewhat different than the baptism that Jesus commanded the disciples to do once people had accepted Christ as Savior.
    • The scripture teaches that the baptism that we do in the local church is a picture of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
    • It is a picture being dead to sin and alive to Christ because of the inner transformation of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
  • John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
    • John was having these Jewish people be baptized the way a gentile convert would do when they decided to follow Judaism.
    • This would have been a shocking admission for those in that culture.
    • They were saying that their sin was so bad that they were willing to admit that they were as far from God as a pagan gentile.
    • People were coming to be baptized as a symbol of repentance, but John was warning them not to do the symbol without the reality being true.
    • Apparently, some of them were not doing it with this kind of seriousness.
    • They were hoping that an outward expression could keep them from doing the inward work of repentance of heart.

Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  (8) Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance…

Luke 3:7

  • The symbol was only meaningful if the reality that the symbol represented was true.
  • If there was true repentance, there would be good works that followed that true change of heart.  More on that in the coming verses.

B.     REJECTION OF ANCESTRAL HERITAGE.

  • John continues in his preaching to warn them against depending on their heritage to replace genuine repentance.  Look at the rest of verse 8:

“…and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Luke 3:8b).

  • Just like ritual cannot replace genuine repentance, neither can your heritage.
  • It has been said that “God has no grandchildren.”
  • God requires all men everywhere to repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation.
  • Being Jewish was no justification for living in sin.  Being Jewish did not make them right with God.

Application:

  • Going to church, reading the Bible, praying regularly, teaching a Sunday School class, taking the Lord’s Supper, getting baptized, giving to the church or some other charitable community, going to confession, praying to Mary, journeying to Mecca, going on a missions trip, feeding the poor…. will not make you right with God or get you into heaven.
    • There is no ceremony or religious practice that substitutes true repentance of the heart.
  • Being the child of a missionary, nun, priest, pastor or rabbi will not do it either. To be right with God we must repent on our own and place our trust in Jesus Christ.

Response:

  • What religious practice are you tempted to believe is a substitute for repentance?

WE CAN KNOW WHAT TRUE REPENTANCE IS BY OBSERVING THREE THEMES.

THEME #1- RECOGNITION

THEME #2- REJECTION

THEME #3- REGENERATION

And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?  (11)  He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.  (12)  Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?  (13)  And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.  (14)  And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

Luke 3:10-14

Explanation:

  • In these themes of John’s preaching we find out that our own personal sin must be dealt with through repentance.
  • We have learned that God’s judgement for sin will be on all who not repent.
  • We have learned that neither religious ritual or birth can substitute for true repentance and faith.
  • Upon hearing these themes there was a response from those listening in the form of a question.
  • Verse 10 records it well.  “What shall we do then?”
    • What does genuine repentance look like?
  • John quickly answers this question with yet another one of the themes of his private counsel.
  • His private counsel and public preaching had the same message.
  • What should they do?  They should live in accordance with repentant hearts!

A.    REGENERATION PRODUCES SPIRITUAL FRUIT. V.8, 11-14

  • Notice that the fruit of repentance dealt with areas of temptation that came to each area of these people’s lives.

And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?  (11)  He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

  • Those who are rich tend to think that everything that they have is for their consumption.
  • To the rich he said, “Repentant people are generous.”

(12)  Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?  (13)  And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

  • Those who were tax collectors enriched themselves by gouging people with extra taxes and pocketing the money.
  • They were known to be people who swindled others out of money.
  • To the tax collector he said “Repentant people have integrity.”

 (14)  And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

  • Soldiers had both physical strength and training and the power of the Roman government behind them.
  • They could use this position of power to hurt people and leverage circumstances for what they wanted.
  • To the soldier he said “Repentant people are just, honest and content.”

Application:

  • Every person finds themselves in a circumstance that affords them some temptation to rely on something other than repentance and faith in Christ for salvation.
  • We all have temptations specific to our situation that will cause us to stray.
  • There really are fruits in keeping with repentance.
  • James said it this way:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  (15)  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,  (16)  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?  (17)  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  (18)  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

James 2:14-18

  • Genuine faith and genuine repentance also produces good works.
  • Good works do not produce salvation.
  • Salvation will be justified by the works that God produces in us.

B.     REGENERATION COMES THROUGH THE TRUE MESSIAH. V.15-18

 (18)  And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

Luke 3:15-18

 Explanation:

  • With such strong preaching and with so many coming to see John preach, there were many who began to wonder what his identity truly was.
  • The jewish people were looking for a Messiah after years of God’s silence and a current state of oppression by the Romans.
  • Verse 15 makes it clear that those who were familiar with John’s ministry “mused in their hearts of John”.

And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

  • John had come to prepare the way of the Lord, and this was primarily a heart preparation.
  • God was using him to do exactly what he was brought to do.
  • How did John know what was going on in their hearts?
    • We’re not exactly sure, but he seemed to know that an answer needed to be given.
    • People were starting to wonder if he was the Messiah.
    • Look at his answer:

(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:

  • John states clearly that he is not the Messiah.
  • He also states clearly that the Messiah is coming.
  • He says that in comparison with this coming Messiah, he is not even worthy to do the most menial service.
  • The slave that unlatched the sandal often washed the feet.
  • This was a dirty and lowly task, and by saying he was unworthy he was elevating the position of Messiah.  The Gospel of John records this attitude that John had about Jesus when he said:

 He must increase, but I must decrease.John_3:30

He went on to compare their ministries:

“he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:”

  • Some have interpreted “fire” here to mean a spiritual intensity or power.
  • But I do not believe the context bears this out.
  • When it comes to a response to Jesus, the saved will be baptized in the Holy Ghost.  This is a one time act of the Holy Spirit that happens at salvation.
  • But what does it mean that the Messiah will baptize with fire?
  • He is referring to the fire of judgment.

(17)  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

  • The truth of the matter is that everyone will either be transformed by the Holy Ghost or will be judged because they are still unrepentant and in their sin.
    • Saved or lost.
    • Eternal life or eternal death.
    • Faith in Christ alone for salvation is God’s plan.
  • In John 14:6 Jesus said,

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  John 14:6

Application:

  • The world is really separated spiritually by Jesus Christ.
  • There are those who have repented of their sin and turned to Christ by faith as the only way of salvation.
  • There are those who have not repented of their sins and face condemnation and judgement.
  • This is the point Jesus made to Nicodemus in John 3:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  (17)  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  (18)  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:16-18

Response:

Which group are you in?  Have you repented of your sin and turn to Christ by faith?

CONCLUSION:

True repentance can be identified observing three themes in John the Baptist’s preaching.

Keyword:Traits

Theme #1- Recognition

Theme #2- Rejection

Theme #3- Regeneration

 

WORKS CITED

Thompson, D. (2021, 1 4). Get Out! Retrieved from Ministry 127: https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/get-out

MacArthur, J, (2021, 1 4). A Voice Crying in the Wilderness Retrieved from Grace to You: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-39/a-voice-crying-in-the-wilderness-part-1