Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 14 No. 8 August 2012
Page 10

If Sin Is the Problem, Repentance Is the Fix

Chad Ezelle

If sin is the problem, repentance is the fix. That was basically the message of John the Baptist as he was preaching and teaching down by the Jordan. The problem he faced was talking with and teaching people who did not really realize their sickness. After all, they could all claim Abraham as their father.

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Luke 3:7-8)

To give a little background to those verses, John had been preaching a message of repentance. He had been preparing the path for Jesus, doing his little part to get the world ready for the Messiah. A group of Jews had come to him to be baptized with his baptism of repentance. If most church leaders heard of a huge group of people coming to repent and be baptized, they would jump at the opportunity to get it done. They could not get in the baptistery quickly enough!

However, John was not like most church leaders. He wore funny clothes, ate weird food and probably did not impress most of the theological professionals. In fact, the idea of somebody like John baptizing Jews was completely unusual. He was not a priest or even a temple worker. He definitely was not the guy they would expect to be a religious teacher. Instead, he just came out of the woods, taught about repentance and baptized people. It was a complete upheaval of the religious world.

It was not a friendly upheaval. John called the religious folks a “brood of vipers.” In case you missed it, that is not a compliment – especially to people who were familiar with Satan taking on the form of a snake in the Garden. In their minds, there was no way they were equivalent to Satan – a serpent. They were better than that, they thought. After all, they went to the Temple, observed the feasts, probably fasted every now and then, and most likely followed a lot of other religious rules. Yet, John called them a bunch of snakes.

Their religious achievements were missing God’s mark. They were failing to follow God’s purpose, missing the big picture. Jesus, in His ministry, always sought to provide help for the helpless. His people, though, were following most of the rules, but their problem was a lack of love for people. God cared about their neighbors, but they did not. Remember that second commandment – the one that Jesus tied directly to the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-39)?

John told them to change their course – metanoeo – but they had a response. “Abraham’s our father.” In other words, they were relying on their birth into God’s family, His chosen people. Because of their Jewishness, they thought they were right and that they did not need anything else. In their minds, there was no need for repentance, because they were part of God’s chosen group. However, in spite of being part of God’s group, His chosen people, they had been failing when it came to following His will. They had neglected the poor, forgotten the needy and burdened the oppressed. They needed repentance because of their failure.

Does the church fail, too? If you look at the numbers for the church as a whole, we have experienced a huge decline in attendance. There are fewer Christians, fewer adherents and fewer visitors to our worship services. We are not making many disciples, not reaching many outsiders and are not perceived as being very relevant to this world. Would God call us a bunch of snakes like those Jews? It is time for repentance – at the congregational level and individually.


The Work of the Holy Spirit

Ernest S. Underwood

Ernest S. UnderwoodThere are many today who attribute numerous things to the Holy Spirit. Most of those things are related by those who are highly emotional. They have a “zeal, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). Almost without exception those things are considered as miracles, such things as the Holy Spirit finding a parking spot for someone who is late for an appointment, surfacing a baby that is underwater into the arms of its father or unplugging a coffeepot at a youth gathering because it was making too much noise. Each of the above has been related to me personally. Perhaps these are more radical claims than most would make; however, there are those who make claims of the Spirit speaking directly to and through them, speaking in tongues, raising the dead – all by the miraculous power of the Spirit.

Does the Holy Spirit work today in the conversion of the sinner and in the life of the saint? For the answer, shouldn’t we do as we ought to do with all the other areas of studies – go to the one infallible standard, the Word of God? The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” How can we go to those who make claims about the Spirit working in their lives when they teach something absolutely contrary to what others who make the same claim are teaching? The question is not, “Does the Holy Spirit work in the conversion of the sinner, and life of the saint?” but “How does He work?” Please study the chart below and notice that everything that is attributed to the Holy Spirit as He works is also attributed to the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit and the Word

The Spirit witnesses (Rom. 8:16)........................................................  The Word witnesses (John 5:39)
The Spirit instructs (Neh.9:20).......................................................... The Word instructs (2 Tim. 3:16)
The Spirit teaches (John 14:26).............................................................. The Word teaches (John 6:45)
The Spirit convicts (John 16:8)............................................................... The Word convicts (Titus 1:9)
The Spirit begets (2 Cor. 3:6).................................................................. The Word begets (James 1:18)
Born of the Spirit (John 3:5, 8)............................................................. Born of the Word (1 Pet. 1:23)
The Spirit saves (Titus 3:5)......................................................................... The Word saves (Jam. 1:21)
The Spirit sanctifies (1 Cor. 6:11)...................................................... The Word sanctifies (John 17:17)
The Spirit cleanses (1 Cor. 6:11)............................................................ The Word cleanses (John 15:3)
The Spirit washes (1 Cor. 6:11)............................................................... The Word washes (Eph. 5:26)
The Spirit comforts (Acts 9:31)......................................................... The Word comforts (1 Thess. 4:18)
The Spirit gives love (Rom. 5:5)......................................................... The Word gives love (1 John 2:5)
The Spirit leads (Rom. 8:14)............................................................... The Word leads (Psalm 119:105)
Indwelling of the Spirit (Rom. 8:11)................................................ Indwelling of the Word (Col. 3:16)
The Spirit strengthens (Eph. 3:16).................................................. The Word strengthens (Acts 20:32)
Power of the Spirit (Rom. 15:13)............................................................ Power of the Word (Heb. 1:3)
Spirit in resurrection (Rom. 8:11)................................................. Word in resurrection (John 5:28-29)

May each of us always be ready to examine ourselves to see if we truly are in the faith.


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