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

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
September 16, 2022 9:34 am

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

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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September 16, 2022 9:34 am

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His miracle was creating a condition by which people could discover a contrite heart in the presence of God which He accepts. How many times did John preach from Genesis and Isaiah and Jeremiah? Would you have loved to have heard his sermons and to have experienced his power?

And yet, in spite of all of that, he was a man who never promoted himself. 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.

Hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. The Thrill of Prophetic Fire is the title of Pastor Rick's message and today he'll be starting in 1 Kings chapter 18. 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.

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.

That'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, 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 they 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's not what, 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, oh 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, I can't even, 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. I wonder how many times he preached it. Just because it shows up in the scripture once doesn't mean they preached it once, not at all. But John's proclamations went on long after he died, Paul still using him as part of the message. But while John preached, he soaked the people, the people in his audience. He first soaked them in this recognition, you've got to deal with sin. That was his message, repent.

How come it's not the message today? How come there are so many Christians that are flocking to churches that will not deal with sin? Sin, to them, is the S word. It's the word they don't want to hear. It's the word that, oh, I meant sincere, sorry, I almost stopped that sin.

Don't want to do that. And they packed their churches up. But that's not the message. And when Jesus came preaching in the days of John, he continued the message of John, repent for the kingdom is at hand.

In other words, if you admit it, you can get admission. If you admit that you are a sinner by repenting through Jesus Christ and Christ alone. And John preached Messiah alone. And after he soaked the people in this awareness of sin, it gave them the solution and they responded.

And their response was immediate, it was in front of everybody. There was, you know, I was raised to respect God, but I drifted when I got older. But when I was in boot camp, they used to say this thing. Something like, you know, you've done something wrong before God and everybody. And I was kind of partially irritated, I felt there was something blasphemous about this. But I wasn't close enough to God at the time to go any further with it.

My point is, when these people were being baptized, they were being baptized in front of God and everybody. Nowadays, we try to meet the sinner. But I don't know, I'm beginning to rethink this. Maybe we need, you know, do we need to do altar calls?

You can't answer that and I can't either. God has to answer that. If we do them, do we do them in a way that our society has a better chance of responding to? Because we're not trying to make them tough guy conversions, and make tough guy conversions out of them, we just want them converted. Or do we do as John did? You step right on down now if you believe. Now, if you already believe, you say, yeah, that's it. But if you are sitting there and you say, well, I'm not yet a believer and I kind of like option two better.

What about in the workplace? When you're preaching to someone about Christ and they're tearing up because they know they're guilty, we need to get them to confess right there, not let them go, not catch and release, catch and confess. That's what John was doing. His sermons spoke of death to the flesh and that's what the water was all about. The Jordan River flowing from Mount Harman all the way down as it winds through Israel, it's not that impressive of a river. To me, the most impressive part is up at the headwaters where it starts. After that, it's just not that impressive of a river.

The great Mississippi is more impressive. But the fact that it flows all the way to the Dead Sea says to the individual that you need to die to your sins. Let the filth wash off and let it just die, let it go.

You need to come out of this a new creation. That's the symbolism behind the Jordan River. And as he preached out in the wilderness, Matthew chapter 3 verse 5, we discover that his message was attractive. He's in the wilderness but yet they come to him from Jerusalem and Judea and all the region around the Jordan. They went out to him. How did that happen? Somebody heard John preach and was smitten, was baptized, went back, told somebody else.

That somebody else said, that's what I need. They went out and got it. They came back and they told somebody and then they were preaching. There was a thrill, this prophetic fire. Do we have it as individuals, as a church?

Do we have this thrill? Both of my daughters have been quick to tell other children who don't go to church that they're going to hell. Now the older one, not so much anymore. But there was a time when she'd go over to people's houses and just lay conviction on them. It's like, yes.

I don't remember ever trying to tone that down. My wife, I don't know what, you'd have to ask her. But out of the mouths of babes.

And so she'd go and see all these witches and stuff. Jesus doesn't like that. Jesus doesn't appreciate that. And they would be upset because their children would hear it.

And by the way, Santa Claus is fake. What do you think about that? I don't know if it always happened that way, but I like it. I love when our children stand up and say, this is what I believe. And we should have this thrill for prophetic fire. You say, is there a wrong time for them to do it?

I don't know. When is there a wrong time to preach the truth? Well, when God has told you to be quiet, that's when there's a wrong time, for sure. Jesus told them, be muzzled.

I don't want to hear you preach it. He told others, don't tell anybody what just happened here. Well, his message was attractive.

It struck people, but it drew them. We're sometimes afraid. Oh, they're not going to like me anymore. I'm going to lose all my friends.

Again, God will give you new friends. Don't ever worry about that. I don't worry as a pastor. The church won't like it. They won't come back. Well, if he wants me to be his pastor, he'll give me new people to come back. I don't want to worry about that. We've watched that over the years. Two people leave, four people come back.

Four different people come in, that is, and it's God's department. But just don't be afraid of this. Don't be malicious. Don't try to hurt people. Don't be pretending to be stronger than what you are. We're all weak, but the message is powerful. When Jesus says, among women, they are not born one greater than John, yet, yet, and he goes on and he talks about we being greater than John of the kingdom. Why is that?

How is that? It's the message, not the man. It's the message. Our message is greater than John's. John had a pre-resurrection message. We have a post-resurrection message. And in that sense, our message, we are greater than John.

No apologies for that. Greater than Isaiah and Noah and Abraham and all the rest of the Old Testament saints in that sense. His message was convictive, verse 6 of John chapter 3. It says, and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

It's very clear, very simple. Repent to get right with God. You know you're rotten. I know you're rotten.

God knows you're rotten. Repent. Prodigal son, this is what happened to him. First in his heart, in Luke 15, 18, he says, he says, I will arise and go to my father and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. He makes this commitment to himself. He practices his confession. Then he sees the father.

The father, well, the father sees him, goes running to him. Then he makes good on his pledge, his resolution, verse 21. And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight and am no longer worthy to be called your son. That's repentance. That is the sweetest picture I think of repentance in all the Bible. There are some others that rival it, so I should say it this way. There are none sweeter.

It is outstanding. Your parents whose children are a prodigal, you trust God like the father of the prodigal. And so the message convicted people. John didn't say, well, you know, I don't want to hurt their feelings. They won't walk way out here to the wilderness again. And then his message was scathing, verse 7.

Invective, G. Campbell Morgan calls it. He says, but when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Brute of Vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? You bunch of snakes. You're not tricking me. I know who you are. You got your robes on, and you see the people coming out, and you really want to stop that so they can come back to your little get-together.

You bunch of snakes. That's what he did. It tells us that right there. How do you make that mean something other than what it means? You can't unless you lie, unless you rewrite your Bible, as there are publishers trying to do.

Someone told me they were making again another effort to make them gender-specific, not even offering the old versions. Man, that is hostile. God will deal with them. But a final note about John's preaching out in the wilderness is his message was invasive. It invaded the enemy's territory. What was that?

What is that? The flesh. It got deep inside, Herodias. She was seething. When John said, you cannot have your brother's wife. You are sinning.

You are an adulterer. She never let that go. He got into her deep. As the saying goes, you got your goat. He got the whole farm. And, of course, hell has no fury like a sinner scorned.

I don't care if it's male or female. And she had John beheaded. She was scorched. That is an occupational habit of a prophet. And we are supposed to be prophets of the Lord. Prophet is one who God speaks through. Priest is the one that speaks to God on behalf of the people. But a prophet is one, again, that God speaks to the people through the prophet.

And sometimes he has to give them a little muscle to do it. And so the power of John's sermons was in its life, not in the miracles, not in the message. John in chapter 10, I don't know, verse 41, I think it's verse 41, tells us clearly that John did no signs. He had no miracles. He didn't make, you know, the water part or he didn't bring fire from heaven. The miraculous power of John was in his message and in his life.

Those two were inseparable, nonconformity. Now, again, we're back to our time, the days that we live in. In those days, John the Baptist came preaching. And these days, insert your name there, came preaching because of nonconformity. It takes conviction to stand up to people. It takes conviction.

It always has. Revolutions have been born and have succeeded because of people and their convictions, right or wrong. It is a fundamental of the universe. It should be a fundamental of the church also. And so his miracle was preaching to conversion. His miracle was creating a condition by which people could discover a contrite heart in the presence of God, which he accepts. How many times did John preach from Genesis and Isaiah and Jeremiah? Would you have loved to have heard his sermons and to have experienced his power?

And yet, in spite of all of that, he was a man who never promoted himself. We'll get to that in a second. And so one of the lessons of this not having miracles but yet having so many people come to him is that we do not need the sensational. We need the truth. The world needs from us the truth.

The world doesn't need some Christian, I claimed it, or well, I just know it's going to happen. When how do you know it's going? How do you know the future? How do you know what God said to you?

Why don't you just not maybe be so aggressive there and just stick to what he has already said? Why can you not be satisfied? Why can we not be satisfied with what God has already said unless you are sure that the anointing is upon you and that what you are about to say is from God and entirely consistent with his word? Elijah's power was by fire. It's what was needed in his day. But John's was by preaching.

That is what was needed in his day. And it's up to us to understand what is needed for us to baptize sincere souls, to remove from them the judgment that awaits them, not by clever talking but by clear speech of the gospel, not by weighty words but mighty words, not being wordy but being weighty, depth, truth, something that presses on the other person. You do not have to be a scholar, but the message will scorch them. The message will touch them because in the presence of God, I don't think I've said this in a while, there are no intellectuals in God's presence. God is not, wow, you're pretty smart. Man, I'm impressed.

So how do you tie your shoes again? So that, and it's, you know, one of our brothers told me a story about years ago. He met somebody and the person said to him, I'm an intellectual.

I would love to meet such a character today because after I got up off the floor laughing and I would tell them that to God there are no intellectuals. Anyway, continuing with this, the Lord's teaching on John, this is critical. What did Jesus say about this prophet? That's what I'm interested in because I want some of this if he be a good man. Matthew chapter 11, verse 11, Jesus said, assuredly I say to you among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist. Then in Matthew 11, verse 14, he says, and if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah to come.

Oh, man, that's hard. Is this the reincarnation that he's preaching? How does this work?

What was going on with this? Well, the Lord's help, maybe I can help us all with this. Jesus said John was Elijah, though John did not recognize this likeness. John didn't say he was Elijah. John refused it as a matter of fact.

Why? John's eyes were on God, not on himself. When he says I must decrease, he must increase. When he was sending his disciples to follow Jesus, he's teaching us that he was not about John the Baptist. He was about God. He was all about Yahweh.

So when asked if he were Elijah, and he was asked right out, he said no. 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 00:05:14 / 2023-02-25 00:15:33 / 10

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