Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: All
From: Su Min
Subject: Response To John

Dearly Beloved,

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshment may come from the Lord and that he may send the Christ who has been appointed for you, even Jesus (Acts 3:19-20).

John the Baptist had a clear message: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The Amplified expands John's message to "Repent (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct) for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt 3:2 AMP)."

Today we look at Matt 3:5-10. The people heard and obeyed. Streams of people flowed out from Jerusalem and Judea and the surrounding regions to the banks of the river Jordan where John was carrying out his ministry.

From Matt 3:6 we see that John recognised the confessions of their sins and submitted them to the baptism of water (Matt 3:5-6) as an outward cleansing sign of an inner change of heart.

There were some people he challenged. Luke tells us the tax collectors were told not to collect more than they were required to. The soldiers were told not to extort money (Luke 3:12-14).

But John had the harshest words for the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees were members of a prominent religious party who claimed to be guardians of Mosaic law and tradition. Jesus characterised them as hypocrites (Luke 11:43-44). The Sadducees were a party of politically powerful aristocratic religious rationalists who denied future life.

When John saw them coming he did not greet them with fair words. Indeed he saw that they had come to see the show, they had come just for show, they had come to judge and condemn John rather that to confess their sins and repent. Ah, come like a family of snakes wriggling away from a bush fire! No love lost! The call is for repentance. If you are truly repentant, the change of heart must be reflected by a change of behaviour. John challenges the Pharisees and Sadducees to produce the fruit repentance by showing change in their relationship to others (Matt 3:7-8).

John pre-empted their indignant retort (Matt 3:9) knowing well that the Pharisees and Sadducees prided themselves of their genealogical links to Abraham. They would think that they were a better breed of people than the masses, and thus should have no need to repent. Were they not the original "holier than thous"? We still have them amongst us and they make our hairs stand on end. John the Baptist points to the pebbles and stones that are on the banks of the river Jordan. Even as God made Adam from clay, so too can God create more children from those stones, and does not need to depend on these "holy holys" if they will not repent.

Then, an even more cutting statement. He has already asked them to produce good fruit (Matt 3:8). Now he says EVERY tree that does NOT produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire. He puts a note of urgency to this judgement because he says the axe is ALREADY at the root of the trees. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control (Galatians 5:22). If we accept the Lordship of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will dwell in us and we will bear the fruit of the spirit. On the other hand, if we are examined and do not show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self control: then do we not declare by lack of fruit that we have not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus?

Jesus says "I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:5-6)"

Do you feel the chill of the cold steel axe head at your roots. Will you be cut down and thrown into the fire? Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent, repent, for the kingdom is near.

Let us go to God in prayer.

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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