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

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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September 19, 2022 6:00 am

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

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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September 19, 2022 6:00 am

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What are people that you are exposed to to preach the gospel?

What will they hear from us? Some of us cannot do it in the workplace. Not so much because we've ruined our witness, but because conditions and circumstances are such that it does not lend to it. But God can overcome even that. Hopefully we are all stirred together by the Spirit of God to preach His truth, the same zeal and conviction without the conformity. 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. Today is part 3 of Pastor Rick's study called The Thrill of Prophetic Fire. He'll be teaching in John chapter 3 today. 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, 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 and 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's some others that rival it, so I should say it this way, they're 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 they are publishers trying to do. Until 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 seed 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 gold. 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 his 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. In 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 is going on with this? Well, with 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.

John's gospel, chapter 1, verse 21. And they asked him, what then? Are you Elijah? And he said, I am not. Are you the prophet? And he answered, no.

His answers got shorter each time, I am not, no. And he was getting a little tired of them, I think. But the point is, the Jews expected the prophet like Moses to come, and they expected Elijah to come, and they still do.

We do too, in a sense. Let me finish with some of this. Knowing what we know about John the Baptist, had he saw himself as Elijah, I am sure he would have deflected the question, are you Elijah? I'm sure he would have, no way, he would have said, oh yeah, as a matter of fact, I am. He would not dare to promote himself to such an elevated status. It was rather insulting to him for someone to associate John the locust eater with Elijah.

That is a tribute to the man. That doesn't mean he was wrong, and it doesn't mean he was right. It just helps us understand that there's more going on here than just a clear answer. Jesus has already settled it. But there's more to it. That's not all of it. Jesus is not giving all of it. He's not saying this is the whole thing about John, and that's that. The scripture. It's all of scripture that we need to understand these things. And so, the Jews asked him this question because they believed Elijah would return. Why? Well, Malachi tells us that.

That's why. Malachi chapter 4, verses 5 and 6. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet. This is written long after Elijah had ascended into heaven in a chariot of fire. He says, I will send Elijah the prophet before you, the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. So now, if you're listening to that as a Jew and you're saying, I believe the scripture, then you want to avoid that curse. Our Old Testament ends with the word curse. Well, that's because that's all the law can do to you, is curse you.

The law is just the microscope. It doesn't have any cure. It says, hey, look at that.

You've got it. And it walks away. It doesn't provide a solution.

The kophar was it covered it, but it didn't give a solution. But John said, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin. He is the solution. We know this, what Jesus has done. We call his finished work grace.

That's just one word to cover it all. Malachi's prophecy is a reference to John and beyond, not to a literal return of Elijah himself. We do not believe. Now, could Elijah be one of the two witnesses in Revelation?

It is very possible. There are three people in the scripture, I'm counting speaking of Christ, that have unique deaths. Moses' death was unique. Moses come up on the mountain and he died. Nobody ever saw him again. No one knows where his grave is. But he died nonetheless.

Enoch, however, did not experience death, according to the scriptures, nor did Elijah. Could God be intending to use these two men in the end times? He can do whatever he wants with God.

There'd be no violation of truth. It's not reincarnation, but there's more to this story. But the belief found its way to the disciples. The Lord knew about it. He had already addressed it in Matthew 11, but that comes up again in Matthew 17 after the transfiguration, where the Lord makes it clear that there are multiple fulfillments of that verse in Malachi. It's not going to be just John the Baptist comes in the spirit of Elijah and that's the fulfillment. That's not what Jesus says. Incidentally, the Mount of Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah show up on the mountain, hell has got to be saying, man, I can't get rid of these guys. And that is a powerful moment when you look at it from, you know, God is just a master of building things with meaning. And he built that moment with meaning. But we don't have time.

I need to move forward. John's Gospel 17, verse 10. It says, And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? Jesus answered and said to them, Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.

Pause there. John the Baptist did not restore all things. So there are multiple phases of this fulfillment. Yet Jesus said, If you can handle this, you can understand that a phase of Malachi 4 is John the Baptist fulfilling a phase of that work. It's called the near and the far fulfillment of prophecy. It shows up in other prophecies also.

It continues. Jesus does. He says, But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise, the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands. And so Jesus is keeping in front of them the mystical elements of prophecy, of God's fulfillment, of the far reach of God's word, of this fact that there is so much out there, we can't take it all in. But God can.

Now, I'm not done with this yet. So John was like Elijah internally, spirit and power, that fire of the prophet. He stands in a class all by himself, I think, in the New Testament. Externally, he was also like Elijah in that he was rugged, independent, non-conformist.

Both men were that way. Ahab was not king to Elijah. He was an idolater. And the temple, as we've discussed at length, did not have the meaning for John that it had for Annas and Caiaphas. John possibly could himself have been a high priest.

Who knows? He had the credentials. Luke's Gospel, chapter 1, verse 17. This is Gabriel, the angel, before the birth of John, speaking to John's father, Zacharias, he says, he will also go before him, the hymn there, the pronoun is Jesus Christ, in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Now, I'm going to review this and wrap it all up for us so we're not too thrown off by it. So the angel Gabriel also rings in and just says, that verse in Malachi, Elijah's going to be a part of that fulfillment. Now, here's an understanding. If the Jews would have received Messiah, then John would have been the fulfillment of the Elijah figure found in Malachi. But they did not as a people, as a nation. As individuals, they received him, but not as a nation. If they refused the Messiah, and they did, then another Elijah-like prophet would be sent in the future.

Now, let's review it and patch up any loose ends. There is a triune fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy, which the New Testament unfolds for us. John the Baptist was the first phase of the promise from Malachi 4 of the Elijah figure.

But then on the Mount Transfiguration, who do we see with Moses? Elijah, not John the Baptist who was dead at that time. So you see, Elijah remains personally distinct. He is who he is. He is not somehow part John, part Elijah.

That's not the idea. There's no such thing as reincarnation. The Bible teaches that it appointed once for a man to die, after that the judgment. And so we're beginning to see a bigger picture of prophecy built into one or two little verses in Malachi. And that appearance was a stunning vindication of the messianic role of Jesus Christ. He's not just a man born in Bethlehem.

He's Messiah, and Messiah happens to be God. That was the Mount of Transfiguration, among other things. And so the third element to this, you have John the Baptist, you have the appearance of Elijah in the days of Christ, and then you have the end times Elijah-like figure appearing, calling from heaven, as did Elijah in Kings, in 2 Kings chapter 1, for example, calling for fire upon his enemies.

We need to just turn there. Revelation chapter 11, verse 3. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before God, the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies, and if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. Now I'm not saying that Elijah himself is going to be one of these men, but if he is, I will not be wrong, because I'm not saying it's not him either.

I don't know. But I do know that the spirit of Elijah, not the God-breathed spirit part, but that personality, that fierceness, that non-conformity, that wrath on unrighteousness will be in those two witnesses, and it was in John. John did not call fire in flame form, but he used it in the form of the word of the Lord. So I hope that helps.

If not, you just have to get the CD and hopefully I did it right. Well, a few more things about this man, Elijah. He is the voice.

Some thought that Roy Orbison was the voice, but it's not. It's John the Baptist, the messenger. He was the most kindred to Elijah of all the New Testament characters. He is the easiest fit to Malachi chapter 4 verses 5 and 6. Isaiah chapter 40.

Listen to this. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. John said, I'm not Elijah.

I am the voice in the wilderness, making straight the path for our Lord. Now this, in Isaiah, making prepare the way of the Lord is Jehovah or Yahweh. It is assumed and applied to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, which makes Jesus Jehovah of the Old Testament. And so there's yet another, Jesus never said he was God.

Well, first off, he did, and secondly, he did, and that's that. So all four gospels, they quote Isaiah and apply this to John the Baptist and his role as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Malachi again, this time chapter 3 verse 1. Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight. Behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

And that also has a near and far fulfillment in Jesus Christ. And so they came to hear the voice in the wilderness. Jesus picks up on that. He makes it very clear that this is just what they came to hear in Matthew's gospel, chapter 11, beginning in verse 10. This is John in prison. He's not sure he has a doubting moment because he was a man of like passions, just like Elijah was like us. John the Baptist was like us because he was like Elijah, and we're all in this together. And so John doubted too.

He is like this castle of a man who had this moment of doubt, and Jesus deals with this, and he makes it very clear to John that he is indeed the Messiah, but after the disciples of John depart, Jesus says to those standing around, he says as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitude concerning John, What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind. But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments?

Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in king's houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet, yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before your face who will prepare your way before him. So the Lord merges Isaiah chapter 40 verse 3 and Malachi 3 verse 1.

He merges them together. He applies them to John, and this kind of literature cannot be thought of by human beings. It is divine. They came to hear a man filled with the Spirit of God. What a people that you are exposed to to preach the gospel. What will they hear from us?

Some of us cannot do it in the workplace. Not so much because we've ruined our witness, but because conditions and circumstances are such that it does not lend to it. But God can overcome even that.

Hopefully, we are all stirred together by the Spirit of God to preach his truth with the same zeal and conviction without the conformity. You know, they're going to lie about us. They're going to attack us.

God will rapture us. And, you know, it wasn't homeschoolers. It's not homeschoolers going around shooting up people, blowing up things. It's not Christians doing these things, but the world drunk with their lust for power will blame us nonetheless. That's not our care.

Our care is not to write the news media. That's like trying to get hell correct. Our task is to preach to those God has sent us and to preach it with fire. That does not mean judgment or wrath or anger, but it means there needs to be energy in our message that comes from our heart because our hearts have been touched by God. 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 That's 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 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 / 2023-01-25 17:40:39 / 2023-01-25 17:50:45 / 10

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