Sermon #20†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† Luke Sermons
††††††††† Title:† ††††††††† ††† John the Baptist
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† A Faithful Preacher
††††††††† Text:††††††††††† Luke 3:15-20
††††††††† Subject:†††††† Five Characteristics of a Faithful Preacher
††††††††† Date:††††††††††† Sunday Evening - January 2, 2000
††††††††† Tape #†††††††† V-63a
††††††††† Readings:†††† Office: Gary Baker Auditorium: Ron Wood
∑ Godís Most Severe Judgment this Side of Eternity
∑ Godís Greatest Blessing this Side of Eternity
∑ Isaiah 52:7-8
In these verses of Scripture, Luke gives us his final word about the life and ministry of John the Baptist. In the first twenty verses of this chapter, the Holy Spirit directed Luke's pen in showing us the faithfulness of John the Baptist as a preacher of the gospel, holding him before us as an example to be followed by all who are called and sent of God into the glorious work of the gospel ministry.
In the verses before us tonight, Luke uses John's example to show us five distinct characteristics of a faithful preacher. But this is not a message for preachers. It is a message for you. You see, that which the Scriptures require of faithful, gospel preachers is also required of all faithful men and women. All believers are God's servants; And the one thing God requires of us all is faithfulness.
One of my unceasing, daily prayers is that God would be pleased to make me faithful in all things, as his servant. Knowing something of the fickleness of my own heart, I know that if faithfulness is found in me, it will be God's doing. The Lord has made this a matter of constant prayer with me for more than thirty years. And the older I get, the more I know of the things of God and of my own nature, the more I see the power and deceitfulness of the cares of this world, the more earnest I am in asking this one thing of my God. Oh, for grace to be faithful to my God, his Son, his Word, his will, his glory, and his people! What does this faithfulness involve? At least these five things.
I. A faithful ministry disturbs men.
††††††††† True preaching is disturbing, heart-piercing, thought provoking. It disturbs men, especially religious men.
Luke tells us that when men and women (religious men and women, men and women who presumed that they knew God) heard the Baptist preach, they were "in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ."
The word "mused" means to reason, to consider, to weigh. When people heard John preach, they were provoked to thoughtful consideration of his message. When a man come comes from the throne of God with a message from God, preaching with a God-given knowledge and understanding, he simply cannot be ignored. Those who hear his message are compelled to weigh his words.
That is always a hopeful sign. I am always delighted to see people evidently considering the things of God. When men and women begin to think, I rejoice. Thinking is not faith. Consideration is not conversion. But it is a hopeful sign.
The gospel of the grace of God, the Word of God, the truth of God is always verified by honest examination. Truth never fears examination. The problem with most people is that God is not in their thoughts. They never consider divine truth.
††††††††† If you are not in too big a hurry to go to hell, you would be wise to get alone with God and this Book, and consider just three things.
1. Pause for a while and consider who and what you are.
2. Take a little time to consider who the Lord Jesus Christ is, why he came into this world, and what he has done. -- "Consider how great this man was!"
3. Will you stop for a while and consider your end?
We make no effort to avoid examination. We court it. I know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the gospel I preach to you is the truth of God. I know that it will answer every need of your heart and every demand of your conscience.
II. A faithful preacher always exalts Christ.
When men came seeking to confer great, high honor upon John, he turned their thoughts away from himself to Christ. As the friend of the bridegroom rejoices in the glory of the bridegroom, so the servant of God rejoices in the glory of Christ, and seeks none for himself (John 3:29-30).
Faithful men serve Christ, exalt Christ, point sinners to Christ, and preach Christ. They do not serve their own interests (1 Cor. 4:1-5; 2 Cor. 4:1-5).
A. By this standard every man's ministry must be judged. -- Does he preach Christ? Does he point sinners to Christ? Does he exalt, magnify, extol and honor Christ?
∑ As the Son of God?
∑ As the Lord our Righteousness?
∑ As the Effectual Redeemer?
∑ As the Sovereign Savior?
∑ As the Monarch of the Universe?
It matters not how learned he is, how many degrees he wears, well he dresses, or even how well he speaks. The thing that matters is what he speaks. Does he preach Christ?
B. By this same standard judge all doctrine, all religious activity, and all religious instruction. -- Does it point you to Christ, make you think more of Christ, cause you to lean on Christ, or does it point you to yourself, cause you to think of yourself, and cause you to lean on yourself, -- the church, -- the pastor?
III. A faithful preacher knows and will always acknowledge his own inabilities (v. 16).
When the people presumed that John was himself the Christ, he quickly pointed out that he not only was not the Christ, but that he was utterly incapable of doing anything for their souls (v. 16).
This is exactly what Paul had to deal with in 1 Corinthians 1-3. The power and efficacy of the gospel does not depend upon the preacher, but upon Christ. "Our sufficiency is of God."
∑ I can preach the gospel to you; but I can't make you believe it.
∑ I can see the expressions on your faces; but I can't read your hearts.
∑ I can baptize you in water; but I can't put you in Christ.
∑ I can give you the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper; but I can't cause you to eat Christ's flesh and drink his blood.
∑ I can show you the way; but I can't put you in the way.
Look at verse 16 again.
††††††††† Essentially, John is saying three things here. These three things every gospel preacher is keenly and acutely aware of, all the time.
A. I cannot save you or damn you. -- I am neither your savior nor your judge. -- You should not expect anything from me, or confess anything to me.
B. I am not worthy of your slightest esteem, reverence, or praise. -- I'm not fit to untie my Master's shoes. I am honored beyond imagination, if he allows me to just take off his shoes.
C. The Lord Jesus Christ is both the Savior of the world and the Judge of the world. -- He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
1. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit in his almighty saving grace.
2. If you do not bow to him, if you are not saved by his grace, he will baptize you with fire in the day of judgment.
My friends, do not rest with anything less than the operation of Christ himself in your soul. I have immersed you in water. Has Christ immersed you in grace? Your name is written on this church roll; but is your name written in heaven? You will, in a few minutes, eat the bread and wine; but are you feasting on Christ? Do not settle for the outward husks of religion. Make certain that Christ is yours. Soon, you will stand before his bar. How will it be for your soul that great and terrible day?
††††††††† That brings me to the next thing.
IV. Faithful men constantly point eternity bound sinners to death, judgment, and eternity (v. 17).
††††††††† There is a day of reckoning. One day soon we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the great white throne. In that great day, all things will be made manifest. In this world the kingdom of God is a field full of mixed seed, wheat and tares. The church is a fold of sheep and goats. Every gospel church is a mixed assembly of believers and unbelievers, saints and hypocrites, possessors of grace and professors of grace.
No man, no group of men is able to distinguish one from the other. None of us can distinguish sheep from goats, wheat from tares, and saints from hypocrites. We are too easily deceived. Therefore our Lord tells us to let them grow together. But there is a day coming, when he who knows all things will separate the precious from the vile.
∑ "His fan is in his hand." Ė Gospel Preaching
∑ "He will thoroughly purge his floor."
∑ "He will gather the wheat into his garner."
∑ "The chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
**** Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.
**** Let us judge ourselves now, lest we be judged with the
††††††† world in that day.
V. Faithful men are faithful unto death (vv. 18-20).
††††††††† Time is the great revealer. In time, you and I will all show our cards. We will eventually make ourselves known. We may not make ourselves known to ourselves. But we will be obvious to everyone else. Believers continue in faith. Faithful men and women are faithful to the end, no matter what it cost.
††††††††† I did not say faithful people do not sin. I said they continue in faithfulness. They continue in the way. They continue to follow Christ until they are with him.
††††††††† Faithful preachers are faithful unto death, just like John the Baptist. May God make this man such a man. Let me be found faithful unto the end.