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John the Baptist – The Thrill of Prophetic Fire (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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September 15, 2022 6:00 am

John the Baptist – The Thrill of Prophetic Fire (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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September 15, 2022 6:00 am

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How many times do we need that in prayer?

Go again, I need it a lot. Because sometimes I've made up my mind that God's already made up his mind that he's not going to answer my prayer because he's had plenty enough time to do it and he hasn't done it. I've been through this before, why bother? And the Spirit of God says go again. And then the Spirit of God says to me, it's not that you're going to get what you asked, it's that you do ask.

It's that I hear from you, that you depend on me, that you're not ashamed to come to me. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Genesis.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 3 as he begins his message, The Thrill of Prophetic Fire. We're going to consider a character that is rather commonplace to us, but I think very beneficial, especially the time, the political atmosphere that is surrounding us, and that is John the Baptist. And this evening's message is called The Thrill of Prophetic Fire. And this should be a thrill with prophetic fire.

You know, if you go camping, when that fire gets lit, there's a thrill, there's a warmth, no pun intended, but there's just something nice about getting that campfire going. How much greater when we're speaking about holiness and the people of God. And so if you have your Bibles, would you open to Matthew's Gospel chapter 3, Matthew's Gospel chapter 3. And the first verse is our text.

It sets the pace for everything. And then we go and we fill in what hopefully the Lord is sharing with us as an assembly and individuals alike. And there our text is simply this, In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. Your first thought is, well, who's in the wilderness?

No one. That's why it's the wilderness. But the timing was so much of God. The man was so ready by God. The people were so ripe for God's message. They came to him. They went to the wilderness. And that alone is miraculous.

But our text starts off with those days. Well, those days were days of self-indulgent, tyrannical Roman Caesars. Unstable, violent, lewd, corrupt, angry, hostile towards the Jews, the God of the Jews. And then in those days when John was in the wilderness preaching, there were the corrupt clergy, the priests at the temple, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees. There were the zealots. There were the people who wanted the corruption because they benefited from it. And then there were the people who were starving for hope, hoping that God would not forget them, that he would respond.

It is not too much different than it is now. We have corrupt government, not just politicians. The government, the people in the offices are corrupt. They want the power. They lust for the power. They enjoy the power.

They want more of it. And then we have churches that are sold out, but still doing business as church. There ought to be a law against that. Well, you're no longer preaching Christ. The whole church thing is related to him.

Call yourself something else. But that's not what's happening. How convenient for Satan. I used to say this all the time, you know, when I was a child watching war movies, whenever the bad guys dressed up in the uniform of the good guys, you knew a good guy you liked was going to die because it was effective.

And it is effective. When Satan dresses up like a Christian, there's much harm. John's times were very similar to the days of Elijah's. In both cases, it called for a man with fire in his blood. With fire in his blood for God's truth. There are many truths. Truth on how to make a wheel.

Well, to start, it can't be square. But that's not what we mean by God's truth. That is the truth of creation and in that sense it is God's truth, but we mean concerning God himself, the person of the supreme being of creation, both spiritual and physical and invisible. And these were days when wrongdoing was so prevalent that only men of passion could get something done.

Only people who had fire in their heart for truth could be used in such a way that they would actually get something done. I think of the hymns. I was talking with one of our brothers yesterday and we were talking about the hymns.

It's just in a separate class. That doesn't mean all the songs today are bad and not worth singing, but it does mean that they are still distinct nonetheless. I think many of the songs that came out of the Jesus movement were very much anointed songs, but still in a different class. I'm not saying one's better than the other. It's a preference, but it's indisputable that the old hymns were born out of a time that I don't know that we've revisited. The same passion, the same intellect, the same depth.

And I don't know what that is right and wrong. I only see it and try to call it like I see it as best I can. But the thing about John the Baptist and Elijah is that you could not ignore those men. To some degree, you could ignore a Mordecai. Haman could not because Mordecai got to a place where the fire sort of took over in a righteous way.

He didn't lose control, but he was rather defiant in the face of this wrongdoer. I think the pertinence of such a message is when we examine a character like John the Baptist, we ask, is there a thrill in me for prophetic fire? Do I have any of this? Where can I get it? How does it work? What do I do with it? What do I get to burn up? Because fire has to burn something. It feeds off of something. We burn up the lies.

If we're going to use it, it's what's missing. There's the fire of hypocrisy, of prophetic fire of God linked to his word, not associated with people trying to stir up the Holy Spirit, but devout, convicted people who have seen God enough to act. That's what I want to get from a consideration of such a man of God and how the Holy Spirit worked in him. John wanted nothing to do with corrupted Judaism.

Now this is important too, I think. We never see him ministering at the temple in Jerusalem, even though he had a double Aaronic pedigree. In other words, his mother and father came from the line of Aaron. The priesthood was a closed system. You could not appoint yourself to the priesthood.

You had to be born into it. A little different from the royal priesthood that we enjoy where you are born again into it. But the Aaronic priesthood, named after Aaron, the first high priest of Israel, you had to be born in the family, in the clan of Aaron, Aaron. And John's parents, both of them, Luke chapter 1 verse 5, there was in the days of Herod, these same rotten days pretty much. I mean, of course, before John was born, but not much different.

In the days of Herod, the king of Judah, a certain priest named Zacharias of the division of Abijah, his wife was of the daughter of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Mother and father, both related to Aaron, and yet their son with his miraculous birth from heaven is never seen at the temple ministering as a priest because he was fed up. He wouldn't have anything to do with those people.

The corruption was just too much for him. And so he goes to the wilderness. He'd rather go to the Judean wilderness than be in Jerusalem. What a rebuke on the people. How consistent, how in line with Ezekiel telling us of the Shekinah, backing out of the temple, the exit plan of God, I'm out of here.

I will not associate with myself with this. The same thing happened to John. There were a few good men in Jerusalem. Simeon was one of them, for example, but John's position was, I am sure not to be with him in Jerusalem. Not to say or suggest that he knew Simeon, but he knew there were still good men in Jerusalem, but that's not where he was going to set up camp and fight the lies, the wrongdoing, that were dragging people down in this life and many down after this life to irretrievable hell. And so in Luke's Gospel in chapter 3, we further read about our text in Matthew chapter 3. Matthew 3.1, our text, in those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. And then in Luke's Gospel, chapter 3, verse 2, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, pause there.

Luke lumps these two criminals in together. Annas was the high priest of the Jew. That's the one the people wanted, but Caiaphas was the one appointed by Rome.

They didn't like to work with Annas. And so Luke, keen on the scent of what was historically taking place and politically going on, he captures it. He says that they were both high priests when the law called for one. And that's just so consistent with the accuracy of Luke, the Gentile physician. And then it continues, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. That's where God met him. Not at the temple, in the wilderness.

And he went into all the region around Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for remission of sins. Yeah, baby, that's what I want. That's the kind of man of God I want to be.

I want God to meet me where God has put me. And hopefully he's put me in a place where I have distanced myself from that which is corrupt, especially when it associates itself with his name. And yet we've got Christians buying any book out there that's on the best sellers list, regardless of content, because it makes them feel good. It doesn't make God feel good.

It shouldn't make us feel good. That's not complicated. I think it's rather profound. It's so simple.

But it's so true. John's position was, look it, they don't need another priest. We need a prophet.

I'll be that man. I will walk away from the priesthood and walk in to a prophetic office. I will thunder God's word if he would have me do it. And he knew God was going to have him do it. And so no need for another priest but a prophet.

And he was right. We say, do we really need another church? I mean, we even have a place not far from here called Church Hill. There's a church on every corner. We need less churches but more people in the churches who are prophetic and thrilled with the fire of prophecy to be unleashed on a lost culture and preach it as the Holy Spirit will teach it. Simply teaching the word of God simply opens up its fire. If we don't hear sermons like this, we will wilt and die. We'll go away.

We won't be here. That's why the pulpit means so much. Again, you know, the world puts all this emphasis on counseling. The church puts the emphasis on the pulpit because the church's position is what the Bible's position is, that he is the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father. He has appointed, he has given to the church. He doesn't steal from the church as some Christians do for whatever causes they find important. He gives to the church because that's where his people are. The Lord is my shepherd.

I shall not want. Well, that shepherd leads me to a place where I can feed and get strong and be nourished and help others. And so the Jordan and the springs of the Promised Land became the temple and the pulpit for them.

That's why he's in the wilderness. I'll set my pulpit up by pond of water. And he used that water also as his pulpit, as the pew, as the place, the temple of God. And so if you look at this man, John the Baptist, and you find out he's got this priestly pedigree that he has walked away from, not from God, but from what men had done with it, you say, well what would have given him the authority to do this?

His birth. His parents would have told him about the miracles surrounding the announcement of his birth, the coming of his birth, the Christ whom he was the forerunner for. He would have known, this is my authority. It would have dawned on him. It would have been a great epiphany or it would have been an incessant walk in the sunshine of God's revelation.

And that's what I think it was. I think when he was being told a story from the time he could understand stories, that fire was burning in him hotter every day. And as he grew older and his dad would take him to the temple and perform the priestly duties and he would watch, the Lord was teaching him all the time, preparing him for such a time as this. The little story of Esther, and that phrase is so profound in that story. Who knows, but for such a time as this, God has put you in the palace. Who knows, wherever you work, wherever you go to school, wherever you live, maybe for such a time as this, God puts you there.

Are you going to be ready? That was what Esther had to face. Thanks Mordecai for being such a godly man who convicts people. Here again we find similarity between John the Baptist and Elijah.

And there's not only a link, it's a dynamic link. There's a force that belongs, pushing within this connection between these two men and another one. Elijah knew of the prophetic authority. He knew that it was imperative, that you could not speak on behalf of God unless God had first given you that authority. You read the prophecies, for example, of Isaiah. How did he get so much right about Messiah? How did he speak so much, I don't know, almost 900 years before the event and beyond? Because much of his prophecy has to do with the millennial reign of Christ.

God gave him that authority. We're going to take one picture from the life of Elijah. In 1 Kings, God tells the prophet it's going to reign. 1 Kings 18 verse 1, it came to pass after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, third year of the drought, saying go present yourself to Ahab, the skunk. That Bible doesn't put that, I can put that there because it's true. And his wife affectionately referred to his dog meat.

You have to know the story to appreciate it. It is a sermon for the lost about a very real hell which makes dogs look like stuffed animals. We're supposed to preach the story of Jezebel. And so it continues, go present yourself to Ahab and I will send rain on the earth. Okay, Isaiah got that. He got it just like when God said, hey, go tell Ahab it's not going to rain for three years. Now he's telling him it's going to rain. Now in verse 43 of 1 Kings 18, Elijah speaking to his servant, go up now, look toward the sea.

So he went and looked and said there is nothing. And seven times he said go again. How many times do we need that in prayer?

Go again, I need it a lot. Because sometimes I've made up my mind that God's already made up his mind that he's not going to answer my prayer because he's had plenty enough time to do it and he hasn't done it. I've been through this before, why bother? And the Spirit of God says go again. And then the Spirit of God says to me, it's not that you're going to get what you asked, it's that you do ask. It's that I hear from you, that you depend on me, that you're not ashamed to come to me, that you are man enough because of the Holy Spirit to accept my no as your answer and that you know by faith I will hold your prayer forever in my heart. Amen.

Then I will go again. And of course the story goes, he goes, and it rains. So my point is, John the Baptist got this authority to distance himself from the corrupt. He didn't care about their feelings.

He didn't care about what they said about him. Today we have people, oh don't say that about the Catholics. They're wrong. And I'll say that about anybody. And you should too.

That's biblically out of line with Jesus Christ and still claiming to be under his authority. No, you can't have it both ways. You can, but just don't expect me to applaud it.

It's not arrogance. That's what we're here for. This is the prophetic fire that thrills us. That's why we love such characters in scripture such as Elijah. How about Antipas, my servant, who was martyred.

You read that and you say, well I don't want it to be me, but I sure would like to know more about this guy. Because when we're born again, this fire, this appreciation for it, the thrill, it's an emotional moment that in the Christian is linked to faith, to Jesus Christ. It's that yeah, it's that I need it. No joy sometimes.

Down in the dumps. And then sometimes it's physical. Sometimes you just need to eat something. Maybe you need some sleep.

Maybe you need to get away from somebody. Those mechanical things could be involved, hindering the joy. The champion Christians have the joy no matter what. I'm not a champion yet. But I do know that God wants me to overcome, and I don't want to overcome unless it's easy. That's not overcoming. That's just enjoying. As you get older, you get a little tired of this.

But then you get wiser too, and that offsets the weariness. You begin to say, yeah I'm tired of it, but I know how this game is played, and I'm going to play it as though there's a hall of fame for me in Hebrews 11 too. Not Hebrews 11, verse 2.

Hebrews 11 also. And so John, here's John the Baptist with his authority. He's fed up with those who played games in God's name. He's done with them.

He distances himself. Elijah and John assumed their roles as men of God because of God. Not in their own strength. They didn't just get irritated with these things, saw the wrong, and that was that, and just now I'm going to do my thing. They waited for the voice of God to lead them. And that is the part also, I think, that pertains to us today, is to identify what is my role as a Christian? What is my short term, my long term? You know, the business exec that will come up and say, well where do you see yourself in five years? Leading more people to heaven.

That's where I see myself in five years. But of course in the business world you can give that, that might not be fair, but it could be part of the answer. When I say it's not fair, he's asking a question concerning the business, and we're giving an answer concerning life.

And so that is fair that we give answers concerning life, but not to a fault to where we're not able to communicate with people about the things that surround us. And so Elijah and John assumed their roles that God had given them in their day. One, his role was dominated by the power of miracles. That was Elijah. When he showed up, fire could be not far away.

I mean, it could be a clear sky. This guy's calling lightning down on people. John, on the other hand, his power was in preaching. In fact, he's called the herald, the kurugma in the Greek. The one that says, make way for the king, he's coming. It's sort of the ancient day. The CIA, or not the CIA, Secret Service, you know, they go ahead of the leader and they make sure the road is clear for him. Well, in the ancient kingdoms, there were runners that were sent before the king's entourage to make sure the roads were clear and people were out of the way and everybody behaved the way they were supposed to behave. That was John's role for Jesus Christ.

Weapons of our warfare being spiritual. And it was his intolerance of false faith that led him to be so outspoken and rebuke the sin in anybody that came in eyesight of this man. You know, it was Herod, murderous Herod, Antipas, that he said, John the Baptist said, you're not supposed to have your brother's wife. I don't care who you are. I don't care if you cut my head off. Well, he did care, but not enough. And that's what happened to him. We'll get back to a little bit of that, but not too much. I don't know why the glory always makes us wake up. He preached Christ by exalting Christ and telling people this is the only way to him.

I'm just sandal straps. He's so righteous, I don't deserve to touch them. That's the idea behind this. There stands one among you. He knew he was already here, and he was preaching it. But the way to this Holy One was through repentance, through calling sin, sin, and not pretending it was anything less. And to pretend that sin is less than what it is, is to immediately distance yourself from the Savior.

He saves us from sin. And so he preached Christ, he exalted him, Matthew chapter 3, our text is verse 1, but now I'm quoting verse 2. This is what he preached, saying, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Now this is true in any age. It's essentially what Noah preached. You can die at any minute, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

And if you haven't repented, you're done. Acts chapter 13, the apostle Paul in a synagogue, not in Israel, now in the Gentile world. He's preaching a sermon, and he's using John the Baptist as his text. He says that after John had first preached Acts chapter 13, before his coming, before the Christ came, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, who do you think I am? I am not he.

But behold, there comes one after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose. Paul picked up on that part of John's message, and it resonated in his heart. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Pastor Rick is teaching from God's word each time you tune in.

As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, this teaching is available free of charge at our website. Just visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can do so at crossreferenceradio.com or search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app store. That's all for today. Join Pastor Rick next time for more character studies right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-25 10:51:34 / 2023-02-25 11:01:08 / 10

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