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A Voice in the Desert

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
February 11, 2021 7:00 am

A Voice in the Desert

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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February 11, 2021 7:00 am

He’s one of the most fascinating characters in the Bible. We don’t have much information about him, but his role on earth was extremely significant. In fact, Jesus described him as the greatest man born among women. Can you guess who this man was?

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He's one of the most fascinating characters in the Bible we don't have much information about him, but his role on earth was extremely significant.

In fact, Jesus described him as the greatest man born among women. Can you guess who this man is listening to this broadcast of the Bible study hour has Dr. James Boyce will reveal the true identity of this important New Testament character to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. You and I should consider it our personal responsibility to live a life like John the Baptist, although that certainly doesn't require us to wear camel skins and eat locusts and honey.

It does mean that our lives should point others to Christ restarting our study of Matthew's gospel with the third chapter and I invite you to turn to that and while you're doing that. I want to ask a question question is this what is the common starting point for all four Gospels begin differently. As you know two of them have genealogies but that's not something I have in common to all of them tell about the birth of Jesus Christ.

That's only two ugly others don't is the one thing that is in common. At the very beginning. All four of the Gospels answer is the ministry of John the Baptist. That's no accident.

Of course, John was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, and he was the one who had been prophesied to come in the Old Testament. So John's appearance was the fulfillment of prophecy the announcement of the fact that the kingdom of God was at hand. Get in the sense of the importance of lack by something that happened later on after the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus had been crucified and returns to heaven. The disciples were meeting on the upper room, Peter, who took the lead on that occasion said now look we have lost one of the apostles Judas because he betrayed the Lord and committed suicide if necessary to the elect one from our number to replace MN. What is necessary is a criteria that he be one who was present throughout the entire ministry from the baptism by John under the resurrection. So in Peter's way of thinking.

The ministry which the apostles were to testify was one began with John's baptism. Now we have it in the Old Testament there are several passages in the Old Testament talk about the coming of the Baptist.

One of them is in Isaiah 40 of chapter verse three. That's what's quoted in the third chapter of Matthew voice of one calling in the desert prepare the way for the Lord make straight. As for the only passage of course very last book of the Old Testament book of Malachi 2 prophecies of one who is the common priestly Jesus Christ.

Malachi 4, five and six of Malachi 31. The earlier of the two text says I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me know God is speaking on medication of he says I'm sending my messenger to prepare the way before me and John the Baptist was the messenger prepare the way for Jesus Christ Old Testament prophecy of full deity of Jesus and the second of those tech says almost the last verses of the Old Testament say I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord, she will turn the hearts of the fathers of their children in the hearts of the children of their fathers or else I will come and strike the land. The curse Angel had apply that very prophecy to John when the angel was speaking of his birth was father Zachariah and Jesus subsequently identified John is that Elijah should, now that's what we have here at the beginning of chapter 3 fulfillment of these prophecies could hardly have been left out is why each of the Gospels begins with them because I hear the train of God's revelation in history begins again speak of the 400 silent years for centuries in which no profit been sent Israel.

Malachi was the last of the prophets, but the fourfold one.

It would, or hundred years of past now John the Baptist is on the St. John's announcement has to do the appearance of the King and the coming of the kingdom of John was a very great man somewhat overshadowed and are thinking of course because his role was to announce the coming of Christ and we rightly focus upon Jesus Christ as person in his work. John himself said what he was talking about Jesus you must become greater. I must become lesser Jesus what he was talking about. John said among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater and John the Baptist with Jesus is not said what he said we would then perhaps the Passover.

John even more. We have to pay attention to them and study the significance of his ministry here looks gospel dates the ministry of John of the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar John would've been about 30 years old at the time, and presumably Jesus was about the same age. He appeared in the wilderness. He was dressed like Elijah probably with a direct intention of imitating his ministry. Elijah stresses described in seconds. Kings and he had a message of repentance repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah summed up here. A very simple way repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. We need that kind of a ministry today.

Screw the John came before the announcement of Jesus Christ, Israel, and laid down the groundwork or prepare the way we live.

After the ministry of Jesus Christ with the work that were given is the same as to prepare the hearts of people to receive it. We are to preach the kingdom in Christ were to call people to repentance. See how John did that we talk about John were talking about. One was a great model for what all of us should be doing with his message because that's the first thing that we have here in the chapter.

I said that he is mentioned that each of the Gospels. Each of the Gospels handles them at a different way mark in his gospel is most direct to simply introduces John is the messenger who had come ahead of Jesus and uses the same words we have here in Matthew, repent the kingdom of God is at hand Luke is the most extensive Luke gives a whole account of the announcement of his birth how John was actually wanting up a whole long first chapter of his gospel contains a great deal about his teaching John the gospel of John when he writes about John the Baptist's house more of his testimony to Jesus Christ out. He was the one that identified him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world exactly what we have in Matthew Matthew's concern is that John came to prepare the way by announcing the kingdom. Remember now that Matthew's gospel is an essentially Jewish gospel is written to a Jewish leadership is talking about the kingdom of God that the Jews were expecting. It announces Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

So is along those lines that Matthew records the words of John. As I said the message has three parts three parts go like this.

First of all there's a warning was involved in the fact that the kingdom is coming and secondly there's a promise is the essence of the coming of the kingdom is the coming of the King's King is the Messiah and the Savior. And finally, Evan given a warning and having announced the gospel by way of the promise. John also as a call for repentance panty set for the kingdom of heaven is at hand to see that phrase kingdom of heaven.

Again, its use 32 times in Matthew's gospel.

This is the first place it occurs, has its roots in the Old Testament and the announcement of the king who should, God's rule over Israel was a model of black, the rule of God's very important thing.

It's a broad term because this is God's universe and everything runs according to his rules is a sense in which everything is part of his kingdom.

And there's also a narrower use of the term, which has to do with the way God rules in the hearts of individual people whom he calls to himself, bringing them to faith in Jesus Christ, his kingdom and that sense is also the church and there's a sense in which kingdom is present when the king is present so John is talking along these lines here now people have called attention to the fact that in Matthew's gospel phrases. The kingdom of heaven and in Mark and Luke the corresponding phrases the kingdom of God is an entire school of interpretation flows out of the dispensationalism of the previous generation makes a great deal of laugh they say those are two different things. The kingdom of heaven is the rule of God on earth. That is the messianic kingdom that was offered to the Jews, the kingdom of God is the spiritual kingdom God establishes by grace in the hearts of his people. That's the equivalent of the church that's determined in some measure the way the dispensationalism as a whole handle Matthew they think of Matthew as recording that initial announcement of this messianic kingdom to Israel and announcement that was rejected by Israel after which Jesus announced the gospel in the broader sense, which would in time include the Gentiles. That's just not right time as scholars of looked at this and examine the words waiting the implications of the terms they said just isn't right. God didn't have a plan, a offering kingdom to the Jews. When that failed, moved over to Plan B and began to offer the gospel to the Gentiles. Jesus was a lamb shed his blood was shed from before the foundation of the world all had to do with the gospel that you have a simply a variation terminology the kingdom of heaven in the kingdom of God and the same thing and if you asked the question why does Matthew use the phrase kingdom of heaven rather than the phrase kingdom of God. The answer is simply that's the way the Jews were accustomed speak. This is a largely Jewish gospel right to the Gentiles rose the kingdom of God but Jews were careful about using that word. God so they would say heaven when they meant God if I wanted to say God spoke they talk about a voice from heaven or the echo of a voice or something like that and so Matthew uses that particular terminology. Now the real question is why that's a warning here is John announcing the coming of the kingdom is going to have to do with the king why is the announcement of the coming of the King. A warning will answer is that the function of the king is the function of judgment.

One was coming is coming with judgment. That's the way John talks read the words that are actually given here. You find that that's what he saying he talks about the king coming pronouncing judgment upon the Pharisees and the Sadducees says verse 12 is winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. What he's talking about.

There is the final judgment judgment that the king is going to break now it's true when Jesus came the first time he didn't come in judgment. When Jesus read the prophecy from Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth on that first official launching of his ministry and he talked about it being fulfilled.

He didn't read the phrase the talk about him coming in judgment that is yet to come.

Yet at the same time there is a sense in which Jesus even now is exercising judgment because judgment has to do with the winnowing out separating of the wheat from the chaff of the sheep from the goats and Jesus is doing that through his ministers as the gospel is proclaimed every time the messages proclaimed every time Jesus held out before sinners is the Savior. There is a division or judgment going on because are those who, by the grace of God say yes that is true, and I need a Savior and they respond to him with others and say well doesn't really apply to me.

I don't have to do that. Besides, I'm not sure it's really true.

Anyway judgment is happening.

So the first message that John has for us is that message warning message of judgment, judgment is a reality.

People don't take judgment seriously today because they don't take sin seriously today.

Sin is a reality in judgment follows Bible tells us the wages of sin is death and it's not just physical death, spiritual death, so the gospel is above all a warning. Prepare the judgment is yet to come.

Secondly, John has a promise of the promise has to do with the king.

One was coming loose shoes. The is not worthy even to carrier the latches, which is not that the loose.

When Jesus comes at this point he doesn't know that he is the Messiah were going to come to that at a moment, but when Jesus finally was identified to John which we have explained in greater detail in the gospel of John.

First thing he did was identify him in the identified them in two ways is the son of God, he said, is also the Lamb of God, it takes away the sin of the world is what we need. We can talk about a judgment of vacant talk about Santa, by the grace of God.

He brings that message on to our hearts, we find ourselves saying yes indeed we are sinful and there is a judgment and we deserve to perish for our sins. We don't think that way normally of the Holy Spirit blesses the message we begin to see that that is true, and it must be true.

We need more than that. That point we don't simply need to know that there's a judgment we need to know that there's a Savior.

Furthermore, a Savior, who is able to save us from the judgment because of who he is and what is done so John is announcing Jesus as the son of God. It's important that he be fully divine in order to make atonement for our sins. We got make atonement for our sins. We got make atonement for the sins of one another. Everyone was bear the burden of his own sin, but God can do it. So God sends Jesus Christ to be the Savior. What John says is that he's the one who takes away the sin of the world. What we need to do is come to him now.

That's the last thing because not only does John have a warning and a promise. John also speaks the man from the land as the people repent, repent, he says, verse two, the kingdom of heaven is near. Some people of understood repentance and a rather superficial manner stealing. Sorry for what you.but that's not repentance, not in the Bible sends repentance means a complete change, so you become an utterly different person. That's why it has to be accomplished by God as a fruit of repentance and regeneration.

I remember people were talking a Sunday school class once about repentance and the children were asked to define Epson one little boy said well being sorry for your sins little girl that was sitting next to them said is being sorry enough to quit.

She had it exactly right. That's what John is calling for an utter transformation. A radical change. DA Carson is one of the great commentators on Matthew puts it like this. What is meant is not merely intellectual change of mind or mere grief, still less, doing penance, but around the globe. Transformation of the entire personal fundamental turnaround involving mind and action and including overtones of grief which results in fruit in keeping with repentance is what we need.

We need preaching like John, we need repentance like that that was seen as a response to his preaching. I was only message John not only came to break. She also came to baptize were told about that as well. There are all kinds of baptisms went on a world of his day was so baptism known as Jewish proselyte baptism when somebody was not a Jew became the Jew was a baptismal ceremony and there was a map to some that was practiced by the Essenes which were second occupied the desert area very near where John was carrying on his ministry.

Scholars look to both of those trying to find parallels in all and there are some kind of parallels but they're not significant because the guessing baptism wasn't really a baptism. It was sort of a ceremonial washing or purification before you went through the various ceremonies of the Essene calls and as far as the Jewish proselyte baptism was concerned it was in the Jews or Gentiles were becoming Jews.

That means is that this baptism. The John introduced in his room was something unique. It was for Jews primarily out Gentiles wouldn't be excluded was for them primarily and it was a baptism of repentance that recognize their need of a Savior to.

That's the meaning of what he had to say to the Pharisees and the Sadducees. When they came they came understood what was in their minds they were there to observe.

They were the leaders of the people what they said this doesn't really apply to us. Because after all we are the children of Abraham.

I thought that they were all righteous because they were descended from Abraham the story people today think they're all right because well and all their parents were Christians and they were raised in the church or something like John just cut that one out from under them on that point. He said don't think that you're all right.

Just because your descended from Abraham being a Jew by ethnic descent doesn't make you a member of the kingdom to repent of your sins and receive Messiah was coming out my new about that. Jesus said the same thing. Jesus told the leaders of you were Abraham's children which they were claiming you would do the things Abraham did as it is you're determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Later on he said that they were the children of their father the devil.

Paul, in his own way.

When he came to write Roman said the same thing because when he begins to talk about the sent from Israel. He says not all who were at descended from Israel are Israel. In other words, not physical dissent that matters. That's true for you as well. What your background is it your relationship to Jesus Christ. What John was calling for was a repentance public demonstration of black which is what the baptism signified while he was doing that suddenly Jesus appeared before him.

He didn't want to baptize Jesus of Jesus was asking for the baptism I had a little exchange there. Jesus said it's necessary that I be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness represents a real problem. People looked at that phrase said, I think asking the right question.

How is it that Jesus could've sought baptism from John, because as we've just seen John's baptism was a baptism of repentance of sin and an expectation of the Messiah, Jesus had no sin. Furthermore, he was the Messiah. So how is it that he could asked to be baptized number of different explanations. Some of seen it as an anticipation of Jesus own death by which he was going to secure righteousness for all seem that's what it's really about. Others see it is obedience to God's command, because God through John was telling the people to be baptized. And so Jesus comes and says, all right, I'll do it.

I think the real answer is found in what I regard as the essential meaning of baptism not so much the sacrament.

But with the sign of the reality.

But what baptism signified which is identification with Jesus Christ. Baptism essentially is identification when our baptisms were identified with Jesus Christ and with his people being identified with Jesus Christ's death becomes our death and his resurrection becomes our resurrection. We actually have newness of life and the forgiveness of sins.

When Jesus was baptized by John. He identified with us saying I take it upon myself to do everything that is necessary to be Savior of these who are my people.

Now Jesus had come up out of the water after the baptism we have what is probably the most significant thing in this entire narrative, but were told is that as he was baptized as he came up out of the water at that very moment, heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and waiting on him and a voice from heaven said this is my son, whom I love with him I am well pleased. Now any Jew knew those words and also knew his Old Testament would know where they came from is not just as we might say a word out of the blue word was already given meaning in the Old Testament. The first part of you are my son comes from Psalm two. That's a Psalm in which the kings of this earth. Take counsel together against the Lord and his anointed thing. Let's break their chains would be independent and God sent his son is king on Zion to rule everybody would understand that this is the son of God. This is the divine Messiah. One was destined to rule. That's the first part second part with whom I am well pleased comes from the very beginning of those servant songs in Isaiah Isaiah 42 verse one is when a Jew understood that no, these were words that were introducing this king this Messiah is the suffering servant to the words. The concern here is not only with who Jesus is. You are my son, also with what he came to do the understand that that's exactly what John was teaching Jesus came to point out Jesus is the Savior of the one. It was the son of God came to died to give his life as a ransom for our sin. In other words, what we have here in the last verse of this chapter is God's verification upon the preaching of John, if I may say so, that is God's verification of all true preaching today preaching today. That leaves that out turn sin. The dysfunction talks about salvation is wholeness makes Jesus Christ an example doesn't present him as the son of God and the Savior who died on the cross for sinners is not true preaching is not blessed by God. On the other hand, where that is preached, God does blessed by his power, the power of the Holy Spirit. He brings men and women of faith in Jesus Christ and so I ask is John the Baptist himself would Alaskan preachers all down through the ages. So ask have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and say well I'm a good person and say, well, my father mother were Christians don't say well I had a good upbringing and I know an awful lot about theology and say I went to seminary. Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior can't do it without repenting of your sin.

Sin is the barrier you can claim to have the righteous one as well turn your back on your salmon embrace Jesus Christ will find the perfect Savior all you ever need one last question. If you've done that. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. Can you say is God the father himself said concerning Jesus Christ year in these words of testimony with him I am well pleased you not say with him I am well pleased. If you really know if you can say that you don't know them very well. Jesus is the altogether lovely one, as well as the powerful one Savior were going to see more about that as we study this great gospel spray father. We do thank you were able to begin the study of the gospel together.

Thank you for the message of John that begins at the lays out all of the essential theology that will unfold throughout the book. We thank you for that living message that says important today as it was back there. 2000 years ago blessed. We pray our minds and our hearts, our lives, we might repent of our sin and find all we need in Jesus's you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us online@alliancenets.org for Canadian male.

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