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John the Baptist's Warning: The Call to True Repentance

Welcome to A Journey through the New Testament! In this series, we will systematically journey through every chapter in the New Testament, unveiling the marvelous insights that can be found in the scriptures.

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One day, while John the Baptist was ministering in the wilderness, a group of Pharisees came to visit. His ministry typically facilitated confessional repentance. Remember, his role was to sanctify the people for the coming Messiah. Even the Pharisees, seemingly in need of sanctification, approached him; however, it seems their motives were impure. Their focus was to show homage to John because he was considered a prophet by the people (Mark 11:27-33). In response, John delivered a striking message.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

John prepared the people by allowing them to confess their sins, and baptism served as a symbol of the washing of their hearts. However, if they did not repent, they would face the wrath of God. It is either be sanctified or punished.

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

Do not just come here to save face, oh ye Pharisees, but if you come, truly repent that you may escape the wrath to come.

9 And think 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.

Here John is addressing the fact that many Jews thought their salvation was automatic because of their nationality. However, John insists that without repentance, they will not taste the fruit of salvation. He also infers that God is willing to give others outside the direct line of Abraham the promise if they do not submit. God can raise up stones to be children unto Abraham, even as He eventually turned to the Gentiles to do the same.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

God is swinging the axe of judgment. If the tree, representing people, does not produce good or holy fruit, God will destroy that tree and cast it into the fires of hell.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

John notes that it is one thing to save face and come to him for the baptism of repentance; however, his baptism means little compared to the baptisms that Christ will perform. Christ will administer two baptisms: one, to those who repent, He will baptize in the Holy Ghost, and those who are disobedient will be baptized in hell fire.

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

Here John uses another analogy, stating that even as the wheat is separated from the chaff, so will the holy be separated from the unholy. The holy will be preserved (saved), and the unholy will be burned.

Though our God is a God of love, He is also a consuming fire. Let us fear Him.

  • Written by Kareem Flowers, Sunrise with Jesus

Examine your life and ensure there is nothing that you have not repented for. Share a prayer in the comments for others that are doing the same.

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