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The Ministry of John the Baptist

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 14, 2021 12:01 am

The Ministry of John the Baptist

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 14, 2021 12:01 am

After the completion of the Old Testament, the voice of prophecy was silent for 400 years. Then one day, a man emerged from the wilderness with a divine call to repentance. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition of Luke to describe the ministry of John the Baptist.

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The Old Testament ends with the book of Malachi.

The New Testament course begins with Matthew. But in between there was a long period of silence. All of a sudden, after 400 years of silence in the voice of prophecy out of the wilderness comes this man who acts and looks every bit like the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament, and he says to the Jewish people come to the river and be baptized for the remission of sins baptism.

Up to that is required only a gentle washing baptism.

The cleansing, something that had never been necessary for the Jews. And through that call John the Baptist was proclaiming that everything had changed, that their salvation was at hand.

Thank you for joining us for this affords the addition of Renewing Your Mind as we continue Dr. RC's goals verse by verse servants or from the gospel of Luke last Sunday we looked at the variance of Jesus, at age 12 when his parents brought him to the temple in which appearance he astounded the doctors of the law with his knowledge and then the Bible is silence for the next approximately 18 years of Jesus life and so Luke now moves to the appearance sometime later than Jesus visit to the temple of John the Baptist, and he's very careful. Indeed, meticulous to give us the historical framework in which John the Baptist appeared. Notice what he says it was the fifth paint year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar Augustus Caesar was no longer Emperor of Rome as he was at the time of the birth of Jesus. Now the Emperor was Tiberius. He goes on to say was that the time when Pontius Pilate was the governor over the provinces of Judea pilot was the fifth governor named by the Roman emperors to rule over conquered Palestine and then we are told that Herod was the tetrarch of Galilee.

This is not Herod the great, the one Herod the great was in his latter years. He put together a will and testament that would divide his kingdom to be split among his son and the Herod that is mentioned here is Herod answer for this who actually replaced his brother Archelaus. Archelaus was first appointed tetrarch over Judea and Samaria, but he was deposed by the Roman Emperor for credulity. How's that for irony the Roman Empire had a patent on governmental credulity so you can imagine how severe the cruelty of Archelaus would've been to have been thrown out of office by the Romans.

At that time is on to mention the others. Philip to restart an ancient city and named it in honor of the Caesar and of himself, Caesarea Philippi, and that leader Philip was one of the most noble of the rulers of the Jews at this time and the others that are mentioned in addition to reference to Annas and Caiaphas is being the high priests. Well, you know that Israel only had one high priest at any given time and Annas had been the high priest but he was removed from office by the Romans, but the Jews who then had Caiaphas replace him still gave tribute and honor to Annas and counted him as still being of the level of high priest so at this time. You have two ivories Annas and Caiaphas, all of this information is given by Luke to give us the timeframe in which the ministry of John the Baptist began know what is significant about this.

I think, is that the text is showing that the ministry of John and the ministry of Jesus were both solidly rooted and grounded in real history.

Now, from antiquity, the people of God have always faced the dilemma of the intrusion of syncretism into their worship. Probably the most destructive thing that ever happened to the Jews of the Old Testament is when they can use.

For example, in the people wanted to lend their religion with the pagan culture around them and that's what syncretism does. It borrows a little bit from the temple of bail a little bit from the asked growth and then mix that together with the Jewish religion whiny time. Syncretism takes place something corrupt is added to the religion of God and at the same time something vitally important is remove from the truth of God and the church has had to deal with that from the first century until today. It seems like every time there is a popular philosophical movement that comes along some theologian will get it in his mind to try to create a synthesis between a popular philosophical movement and historical Christianity. The 20th century. For example, saw two very important type syntheses come into being, which did immeasurable damage to Christianity and to the church one that you might be familiar with is called liberation theology, which was a conscious attempt to blend or synthesize biblical Christianity with the philosophy of Carl Marx Christianity was then seen as really having its purpose and focal point, not the personal salvation of the soul for eternal life, but rather the establishment of a kind note what they call social justice which is really social injustice.

But in any case, they were concerned about translating the meaning of the gospel to the here and now to social and political issues most important was the concept of freedom and Marxist motto Arbeit Mark Frey was very important to this movement in the way freedom comes the past is through revolution and the whole meaning of the gospel of the New Testament is about political revolution and freedom.

One New Testament scholar wrote a book in which he claimed that whether Jesus lived is unimportant because the meaning of Jesus is freedom and where ever there is a struggle for freedom. That's where God is and that's what Jesus means well even more widespread than liberation theology was the influence of Rudolph Bultmann who became the most influential New Testament scholar of the entire 20th century and what Bultmann tried to do as others before him in the template as well was to create a synthesis between New Testament Christianity and ex-substantial philosophy. Now you all know what existentialism is. You have to because so many people asked me about all the time. What is next.

Ice is very easy's philosophy of existence not having answer that question we can move on. What Bultmann was saying was that you can't live in the 20th century in this post-scientific era. In this time of enlightenment and make use of electricity and television, and computers, and modern medicine and still believe in a world inhabited by demons where there are religious people who die and are raised again from the dead born of virgins and that sort of thing rather than New Testament content. In that regard is mythological.

Now there's a grain or an element or what mom called a kernel of truth to be found in the pages of the New Testament buried all underneath and among this mythology, but it's the task of the theologian to tear off the house of all this mythology so that we can get to the kernel of truth that really matters and that kernel of truth is this that redemption is something that takes place vertically rather than horizontal. That is to say, for Bultmann salvation takes place in the way in which he said Zen correct Vaughn open immediately and directly from above and ex-substantial instant in the here and in the Nile that they cannot be set with an existential experience of the sense of God.

That's what Christianity is all about.

And so what happened with Bultmann's theology was he rudely tore and ripped Christianity out of any foundation in real history.

I can remember when I was in graduate school in the Netherlands. My professor, Prof. Burke, our made the observation about Bultmann. He said and I quote theology can sink no lower well I think that he was looking at her through rose colored glasses and was a bit Pollyanna-ish because that was before the death of God. Theology that came along and radical feminist theology that came along and started posting conferences, celebrating the goddess Sophia in reimagining. God that's lower than Bultmann ever descended in his life, but in any case, the issue was the relationship of Christianity to history, we were in seminary, a word that we if we make sure we put it in every essay exam make sure we get some credit from the professor was the catchword house district that house district that made reference to salvation history with the Bible's not real history is redemptive history, art, salvation history, and so whether or not the Bible's accurate and the things that it reports is irrelevant.

It's the message that matters of how to have authentic human existence of the critics of this came along defending orthodoxy saying yes it's true that the Bible is not ordinary regular history book.

It is redemptive history. But while it's redemptive redemptive history.

It's also redemptive history. It's real history. The apostle Paul understood these tendencies even when he wrote to the Corinthians. For those who were denying the reality the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus when he said you know that's if Christ is not raised, that is, if this is not historical reality, we are of all people. The most to be pitied because the Christian faith is high.

It's tethered to history. I don't know how you feel but I want to know is a true and when I asked the question. The truth claims of Christianity. Trustworthy.

I'm asking the question, did Jesus really die on the cross as an atoning death that Jesus really rise from the dead, that he really ascended to heaven, you take those elements out of Christianity. You've taken away. Christianity altogether and replace it with something else. When people just have the honesty to say we turn our churches in the monuments of unbelief and we just don't believe that stuff anymore. Rather than trying to reconstruct the or recasted in a way that will appeal to people today. This happens with attempts to synthesize biblical Christianity with the prevailing notions of relativism and pluralism. You'll hear proximate self-proclaimed evangelical preacher stand up Mount St. Jesus is the only way he's one way among many that is balling before the idle of secular pluralism and is a complete betrayal of the teaching of Jesus, but here comes. Luke on the stage. Luke is been heralded as the greatest historian of antiquity. Luke is telling us of things that happened where they happen when they happen and why they happen as he now gives us the seven for the appearance of John the Baptist where he says during the reign of these different people, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness and that desolate wilderness between the hill country of Judea and the Dead Sea that piece of real estate. There were nothing gross except a few scrub bushes here and there were the land is not covered with sand, not that kind of desert, but the land is covered by pebbles and stones and rocks under which live scorpions and snakes.

There's John the Baptist living in that environment living on locusts and wild honey. No other problems.

John the Baptist may have had while he was in that. But I know obesity couldn't have been one of them. But imagine a died of that locus for breakfast, followed by little dessert of honey and then locus for lunch and then then you wrote some more logos on a strict over far and try to make s'mores out of it by dipping a lot honey over so that you can endure it for another day. That's what he lived on such austerity because he was committed to the service of God and in the midst of that came the word of the Lord and what the word was saying to John is John now it's time to leave the wilderness. It's time to go to the river Jordan I'm sending you on a mission as it was prophesied in the Old Testament to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. I want to go to my people and I want you to implement a new law among them when they've never experienced up to this point.

The new requirement is this, they must be baptized for the remission of their sin. We really don't understand how radical that concept was to the Jews because prior to this time, the only kind of baptism that was any significance among the Jews was called proselyte baptism and it was a cleansing rituals that the Jews impose upon Gentiles who wanted to convert to Judaism and the reason why proselyte baptism was inaugurated was because from the Jewish perspective Gentiles were unclean to dirty, to be involved in the sacred rights of Judaism itself. I want to convert to Judaism. They had a professed faith in the content of Judaism. They had to be circumcised, in addition to that they had to take a bath is a symbol of their cleansing, but that requirement was only for Gentiles. All of a sudden, after 400 years of silence in the voice of prophecy out of the wilderness comes this man who acts and looks every bit like the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament, and he says of the Jewish people come to the river and be baptized for the remission of sins. Just a minute. This is not New Testament baptism is another baptism that is the covenant sign that Jesus instituted this is preparatory baptism.

There many points of contact between the baptisms of John the Baptist and Jesus with an this is given to the Jews because what John was saying what God was saying through John is look. Everything is changed, the kingdom of God is at hand.

The Messiah's route to appear your salvation has come close and your not ready. So before he comes, you must repent and take a bath, indicating the remission of your sins having your sins set away just as was signified in part of the celebration of the Passover in the Old Testament after the animal was sacrificed and put on the mercy seat with his blood that was part of the other part is when the high priest put his hands on the back of the scapegoat symbolizing the transfer of the sin of the people to the back of the goat and the goat was sent where into the wilderness into the outer darkness so that the sins were carried away and John is talking about now a remission that doesn't have to be repeated every year in the celebration of the Passover, but the taking away of your sins forever as far as the east is from the west, so the one who comes the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world will take your sin away.

But before he comes.

You need to get clean and then explaining this he cites the words of the prophet Isaiah found in the 40th chapter of Isaiah's book, saying, the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

This is John the Baptist, but initially, the reference was to the return of the Jews from captivity under Cyrus in the ancient world whenever a visiting king or monarch dignitary came to the country. It was the custom to prepare the way adorn the streets. Roll out the red carpet and announce the imminent arrival of the distinguished monarch with the blowing of the trumpets of the show. For whatever, saying, here he comes get the streets ready prepare the way that was a primary fulfillment that took place at the return from exile, but the ultimate fulfillment is to take place here were John the Baptist is to be that voice in the wilderness, in which he says prepare the way of the Lord. It's interesting to me that in New Testament times. Christians were not called Christians until Antioch before they were called Christians, which was a kind of insulting term.

They were first called the people of the way the narrow way Christ's way. The one who is the way and the truth and the life. And so John says prepare this way none of the cane but prepare the way of God make his paths straight with the paths been overgrown and are winding around obstacles clear away the obstacles get rid of the bends in the curves and make this way, straight, and this we heard in the Messiah from handle every valley shall be filled to be exalted, every mountain and hill brought low, the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

This is not a description of actual topographical changes that were supposed to take place on the roads of Palestine.

This is the prophetic word delivered in poetic imagery.

This talking about what has to happen to people as God is coming to them.

The proud. The Hoover exalted themselves and appear as high mountains have to be brought and those who have been abased, those who been oppressed have to be lifted up and all the thorns in the rocks and the stones and obstacles that fill our sinful hearts or hearts of stone have to be changed. The crooked places made straight the rough places made smooth because he's here and you're not ready and then all flesh will see the manifestation of the salvation. This is the mess the presence what a beautiful message Messiah has come, but we must be ready, we must prepare our hearts to receive him.

Dr. RC Sproul is better teacher today here and Renewing Your Mind as we continue his sermon series from the gospel of Luke. I hope you found today's message helpful and encouraging. You will also find that same kind of help and clarity in Dr. Sproles commentary on Luke's Gospel. Contact us today with a donation of any amount or will be happy to provide you a digital download of this nearly 600 page commentary or offices are closed on this horse day but you can give your gift and make a request when you go to Renewing Your Mind.ward and I think it's important to mention that our purpose here and later, is to come alongside the church and help build God's people and their knowledge of God and his holiness. It's never our intention to replace the local church. So while were thankful that you can enjoy Dr. Sproles teaching on the sports day. We hope you will also be joining your local church for fellowship next week will once again focus on John the Baptist as he preaches in the blueness of his neck something here on Renewing Your Mind

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